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Getting Culture Right: The Voice of the Crowd

Published on 25 Sep 2019


At this year’s annual conference on leadership & culture, Getting Culture Right, we heard from a variety of leaders who have been driving culture change within their organisations. Whether they were relatively early in the journey as was the case with IBM’s David La Rose, who brought a new focus on culture when he was appointed Managing Director of AU/NZ in 2017. At the other end of the spectrum we heard from Rod Fehring and Ranna Alkadamani of Fraser’s Property, who have been working on their culture since 2008.

As well as the personal experiences of these leaders we also heard from culture change experts, with Corinne Canter and Rob Phipps presenting the learnings from their combined 5 decades of experience shaping and managing cultures which is also captured in their Catching Waves whitepaper. Finally, we heard from Shaun McCarthy who tried to clear up some of the confusion around what culture is and how it can be a measured.

Attendees of any of the previous 20 conferences will be very familiar with this format of leaders and experts sharing their experiences and personal journeys from the stage. However, for the first time this year, we wanted to hear from a broader group on their experiences with culture and how well it is being managed within their own organisations. To that end we engaged the audience in both Melbourne and Sydney, asking them a series of questions about whether their culture was being managed well and if they believed their leaders had the skills to do so.
 

  • Do you believe your organisation (or client) is getting culture right?
  • Do you believe leaders you work with have the skills necessary to get culture right?
  • To what extent do you believe your CEO (client CEO) clearly agrees that culture is critical for the organisation’s performance?

 
So, what did we learn based on the experiences of the 866 people on average who responded to each question?

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It was clear that those who attended the conference believed their CEO understood the importance of culture, with 62.4% of respondents reporting their CEO understood this to a great or very great extent. However, there appears to be an execution gap with a majority of respondents reporting their organisation was not getting culture right (62%) and their leaders did not have the necessary skills to do so (53%).

This suggests there is a high level of awareness around the importance of culture, unsurprising given the amount of media stories surrounding it, but organisations are not quite sure what they should be doing about it.

What is your organisation or client doing about taking an active role in managing and shaping their culture? If you’re thinking it’s an area that requires focus but are not sure where to start, the Catching Waves whitepaper provides a great introduction with practical suggestions on how to get started.

  


We’d love your feedback as well as any suggestions for questions you’d like answered from our data. Email your feedback to ABarbour@human-synergistics.com.au