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The Growing Role of the Corporate Culture Consultant
Culture consultants can help leaders create high-performing corporate cultures. Creating such cultures and managing them is one of the most impactful things leaders can do. The benefits of healthy organizational cultures are obvious. The impact of a corporate culture consultant is less so, however.
“Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything for better or for worse.” – Simon Sinek.
High-performing organizations have purpose-driven cultures that give them edges over their competitors. Why do corporate cultures matter, and how do they help companies become more successful?
Purpose-driven, successful organizations must have strategies and cultures that facilitates success. These variables must act in concert to allow organizations to make the most of its human capital and achieve its short- and long-term objectives.
Organizational culture is a defining aspect of an organization’s purpose.
The existence of a corporate entity must answer three questions: why, what, and how? Leadership coaching understands the same is true of individual leaders. They must be able to answer these questions about their leadership.
With corporate entities, an organization’s WHY is its purpose or raison d’etre. Purpose defines why an organization exists and what it hopes to provide.
Strategy defines WHAT organizations must do to meet their goals and fulfill their purposes. From the perspective of leadership coaching, strategic goals represent milestones on the road to the ultimate goal: the purpose of the organization.
The organizational culture defines HOW a company handles its business and reaches its goals. Every business has a selection of values it espouses. With those values come behaviors and traits the company values in its employees and leaders. The sum of these values, traits, and behaviors, and how leaders and employees relate to them define the culture of an organization.
What Do Culture Consultants Do?
In theory, culture consultants do to organizations what executive coaches do to leaders, but instead of targeting leaders, like business coaching, culture consultancy has a wider scope.
Leaders themselves have significant impacts on organizational cultures. Some would argue it’s the most significant impact they can exert through leadership.
“The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture.” – Edgar Schein.
Consequently, executive coaching has an indirect impact on corporate culture.
Consultants specializing in corporate culture help teams and leaders identify and cultivate cultures that facilitate the accomplishments of the goals of the organization. To this end, they:
- Set a baseline for their efforts by analyzing the current state of an organization’s culture
- Seek employee feedback through focus groups and interviews
- Through an initial analysis, they uncover gaps between the current state of the culture and its desired state
- Determine how culture changes could impact the effectiveness and success of the organization
- Determine what changes could help the organization meet its culture-wise goals
When Does an Organization Need a Culture Consultant?
How do you know your organization needs a culture consultant? The first step is to evaluate honestly how dysfunctional your organization is. Do your leaders exert optimal positive impacts on your corporate culture? Are things out of balance? Do cultural issues sabotage success and efficiency?
Some of the clues that can help you identify cultural problems are:
- A lack of performance
- High employee turnover
- Conflict-proneness throughout the organizational ranks
- Less-than-optimal communication, frequent misunderstandings, and lagging patience
Challenges Corporate Culture Consultants May Face
Many organizations aren’t ready to embrace the notion of dedicated culture consultants. Similar to how business coaching took time to gain acceptance, it may take a while until companies realize the value of culture consultancy. The issue, most of the time, is ROI (return on investment). The otherwise logical benefits of culture consultancy are so far removed from businesses’ bottom lines, they struggle to make visible impacts.
You can only manage what you can measure.
Culture consultants may have difficulties measuring impact and progress. Bringing in culture-focused teams makes logical sense, but what does it look like when teams are successful, or how does one know it’s failed?
To address this issue, consultants must establish clear standards of success and measurement from the beginning.
Organizational decision-makers must not confuse culture consultancy with team-building or employee morale-boosting. Consultants help leaders excel at what they do as leaders by creating high-performing cultures.