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Bring a group of CEOs and company owners together and they’ll tell you that their people are their most important asset. Ask them where in any given year their main investments are and you get a list that includes technology, premises and equipment.
So where is the investment in that most important asset?

Business Culture is key
There is more at stake than working in a happy, motivated and effective company; in this hyperaware age, profitability is increasingly dependent on Culture.
For example, recruiting can be tricky when a toxic Culture is referenced on Glassdoor, customers may choose a different brand that has a feel-good factor and clients may rule your business out at initial tender response because they value Culture as an asset.

Shirlaws has been granted privileged insights into the running of all kinds of companies and can confirm that most do not invest heavily enough in colleagues’ learning and development; what’s more, they are often the first to be culled in a cost cutting phase. The reasons for this are varied and yet often common across industries: Culture is ‘soft’ (as opposed to ‘hard’ commercial outcomes); we can’t quantify the ROI; what if we train people and they leave? The flip side is of course, what if you don’t?

As tempting as it can be to downgrade investment in employees, the actual cost to businesses can be extreme. Ultimately, there are only two assets in your company that can’t be copied – your brand and your Culture. The two mirror each other; how your customers think of your business is reflected in your brand. Your employees are standard bearers of your brand and need the skills, confidence, and energy that come from working in a powerful, engaged and supportive Culture. Historically there have been some extremely costly breakdowns in business Cultures, to name only a few:

  • the misbehaviour, and poor decision-making in the financial services industries amounted to over $250 billion in fines being levied globally
  • in the energy sector, BP faced over $50 billion in fines and is looking at decades of litigation, and
  • in the auto sector, Volkswagen and Takata combined for over $25 billion in penalties

The cost to the private sector for these breakdowns in human behaviour, or Culture, totals at least $350 billion over the last 10 years. That is a staggering number. For some perspective, there are only about 30 countries in the world with an annual GDP larger than that. The commercial destruction to these brands is very costly and very real. Given that most people want to do a good job and believe in operating ethically without compromising their values when at work, we can therefore deduce that these breakdowns are the result of poor decision making rather than one or two bad apples in the barrel.

What’s to be done?
We can learn from these expensive Cultural breakdowns with the aim of better investment in, and support of, your best asset.

Develop your vision, create and communicate your strategies
Then make sure you and the senior team live and breathe them. You will be asking employees to take the reins and carry out these plans, making individual choices along the way. A strong Culture is therefore critical to act as a signpost for employees.

Define acceptable behaviour
Due to chronic under-investment, many corporates and SMEs don’t have an environment that supports values-based Cultures. To address this, a system is required to demonstrate what acceptable behaviour looks like. Measuring and rewarding people on Cultural outcomes will bolster desired behaviours so that they become sustainable and a true business asset.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast
Your business may well have a strategy in place, but without a focus on Culture the issue will be whether that strategy is executed well, if at all. Shirlaws world-class IP and methodologies take your business through proven frameworks to achieve positive Cultural outcomes.

A Powered by Shirlaws licence will give you access to a tool kit for self-implementation, or you can choose to work with one of our Shirlaws Coaches.
To find out more sign up for one of our interactive Discovery Sessions or alternatively complete our form and one of our team will be in touch.