Company Culture: Your Best Weapon Against Disruption

July 8, 2016

by Michael Brothers, VP of Sales, Intellectsoft UK

The Value Proposition of Company Culture

It’s easy to lose sight of what matters in the vortex of buzzwords which surrounds the tech industry. At Intellectsoft, we keep coming back to the value of a strong company culture. There is no doubt in my mind that it has contributed to our success thus far.

There is no shortage of practical reasons for putting culture first. The statistics confirm a drastically lower voluntary turnover rate at companies with a fully-realized approach to developing a vibrant company culture. On the roster of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For we see companies which routinely achieve nearly 100% greater performance in stock returns compared with broader indices.

Research by Bain & Company has shown that nearly 70% of business leaders agree that culture provides the greatest source of competitive advantage – with 80% believing that “an organization that lacks a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity.”

But while an hostile or unengaging work environment can certainly be disastrous to employee performance, the solution is not all about instilling happy hours and retro arcade machines.

Millennials, in particular, wish to be sold on company culture and values. Younger employees want to feel invested in the company vision and it’s the role of leadership to help develop a culture aligned with that company strategy and vision. That way you can empower employees to share in your vision and also in the responsibility for accomplishing team goals.

Nurturing the Right Talent to Develop the Right Culture

Developing the right culture starts in the hiring phase, by making sure employee expectations are aligned with company values, so we can nurture the right kind of talent. People with the right attitude, not just the right aptitude. If you have a high-performing employee who can’t play with others, it is detrimental to company culture and thereby detrimental to business.

And there’s something to be said for allowing the culture to evolve organically, in collaboration with employees. Many of our employees have come to expect a greater degree of flexibility in their work (a fact which I am sure is felt by many of my colleagues). With an increasingly mobile and transient workforce, developing the right type of flexible work environment becomes an ongoing conversation. And as globally-distributed teams become commonplace, culture has come to play a vital role as the glue which holds the team together.

Communicating and Measuring Culture

After recruiting ambitious individuals with a great team fit, we work with them to help play to their strengths. A motivated individual in the right role can become a champion for the culture you wish to generate. But to get there, it is important to give the employee a stake in the decision-making process — giving them breathing room to innovate and explore independent lines of thoughts. This all comes down to effective communication.

On a team-level, communication forms the basis for an atmosphere of trust and support. This means demonstrating to the team their personal value add to the big picture but, just as importantly, it is measuring the outcome through direct feedback. One way of doing that is through anonymous employee surveys which can guide us in making meaningful changes towards fostering a culture of transparency and mutual respect.

Don’t rely on gut instincts when it comes to culture – measure and rely on the same analytic tools you would in other facets of business.

Putting Your Culture to Work

Disruption isn’t new, but we have never experienced it at this scale before. I could run you through the list of Ubers, Amazons and AirBnBs attacking the bottom-line of long-standing vertical incumbents but it would crash your browser.

Constellation reports that since 2000, “52 percent of the companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist”.

A crucial tool in sparking disruption or resisting it is in developing a culture which breeds innovation. PWC reports that 41% of CEOs have recognized the the importance of tying workplace culture to behavior. Recruit the right people, tap into the generation which can drive the necessary innovation and adoption of new technology. These are the people who will know how to engage a new generation of consumers, help you birth and execute ideas quickly and respond to changes with agility.

At Intellectsoft we have seen the value of inviting bright thinking and making each employee an engine for innovation. We try to celebrate our range of voices with their unique jobs, and personalities whereby we create an environment for sustained change.

We take great pride in our employees and the culture which allows us to better serve our clients and anticipate their needs. Because the right culture is the perfect starting point to generate future-proof innovation.