A key goal for companies is to maintain cultural consistency as they grow and become geographically diverse. When Tribe is working with companies that have multiple offices or are regional or global, we often find cultural pockets that differ from the rest of the company. And sometimes we’ll find a part of the business that’s moving in a completely different direction.
In the best cases, the differences from office to office or region to region are really just a different vibe rather than a truly different culture. This is completely normal since no two offices or locations are just alike. But sometimes we find real cultural differences.
The thing that keeps the organizational culture from drifting in different directions under overly autonomous leaders is a strong culture based in the foundational touchstones – mission, vision and values. That’s the rudder keeps the company on its chosen course as leaders make day-to-day business decisions and choices.
So what’s the big deal if the culture varies from one leader to another?
A company’s brand represents the promise that it makes to its customers, and a perceived level of quality and consistency is inherent in that promise. The brand promise is delivered by the employees of the company. This is particularly true in retail and service environments where front-line employees are face to face with consumers. So if a local or regional leader has created a culture that’s dramatically different from the rest of the company, it can be confusing to customers.
A culture driven by an overly autonomous manager can also breed inconsistency in the employee value proposition. Among other things, the EVP is designed to provide clarity around what employees can expect as they show up for work every day. When the reality doesn’t match expectations, employees can become disengaged and unhappy.
Here are a few ideas for maintaining a consistent culture in a geographically diverse company:
- Maintain regular communications with leaders. Ensure that leaders to meet regularly – monthly or even weekly – to keep up with what’s happening with the company and in other regions. While technology is helpful, meeting in person as often as possible will help leaders build relationships, which will increase their comfort in openly sharing issues and ideas.
- Reward the sharing of best practices. When smart leaders find a problem or a gap in their business, they’ll figure out a solution. Since, other leaders are likely facing similar issues, make sure that your leaders are motivated to share their solutions.
- Keep the focus on the values. In the best companies, the C-Suite vision is about more than just making a dollar. There’s a ‘why’ and a ‘how’ in the vision that differentiates the company. Make sure that leaders around the company are fluent in the cultural language. Recognize and reward those that live the values that guide the actions as they help achieve the vision.
Need help creating a consistent culture? Tribe can help