As President & CEO for Ricoh North AmericaCarsten Bruhn runs the information management and digital services company.
In my opinion, investing in culture is not about spending millions of dollars. While there may be a financial cost, money alone cannot build an organization equipped for long-term success. Building an inclusive, sustainable business for the next generation requires leaders to lead by example by investing their time and energy and going beyond conversation pieces and living the culture in everything they do, every day.
Culture is everyone’s business.
Company culture” is notoriously difficult to define. Broadly speaking, it encompasses the shared values, behaviors and beliefs that underlie how work gets done. This means it is formed by more than just the HR team. Everyone is responsible for building a thriving culture that enables strategy and drives performance, from increased revenue to attracting and retaining talent.
According to Gallup, this can lead to a culture that attracts high-performing talent 33% higher revenue. It is therefore important for an organization to invest in recruitment campaigns. For example, my company’s marketing and HR leaders have joined forces to attract potential talent through an aligned recruiting marketing campaign tied to our culture of excellence. Launched in 2022, the campaign provided a seamless experience from attraction and signup to onboarding and retention. This interdisciplinary initiative has produced phenomenal results: 97% of applicants accepted a job.
Culture must go beyond words.
Too often people go to work every day only to discover a gap between what they hear and read about their company culture and how they experience it. We’ve all seen mission statements and company values prominently displayed above the front desk, but it’s up to leaders to bring those words to life. You can implement a number of recurring leadership opportunities to engage with team members across the organization. For example, I hold a weekly ‘Coffee with Carsten’, where I personally have the opportunity to meet smaller, more intimate groups. Monthly town halls can be a great way for your entire management team to share and address questions from the wider organization. These initiatives enable you to move from how you define and talk about culture to how you model and build it.
In a PWC survey on organizational culture 67% of respondents said culture is more important than strategy. In addition to recruitment, you can invest in defining clear cultural characteristics and training your employees. For example, my company has trained over 600 North American leaders to become cultural ambassadors, exemplifying these traits and promoting culture change. It is efforts like this that help bring a company’s mission and values to life in all areas of the business.
Culture must unleash greatness.
You can’t build culture in PowerPoint, you have to live it. We must encourage our team members to immerse themselves in their jobs and throw themselves into pursuing new solutions to problems without fear of failure. Recognizing and rewarding the right behavior, regardless of the outcome, is critical. How you emerge as a leader, how you recognize success and how you react to failure builds and strengthens trust and unleashes innovation.
As leaders, by sharing our own personal successes and failures, we can further build that trust by showing authenticity. Conversely, we must constantly ask our team members what they think. One way you can do this is to regularly visit offices, meet team members, record these visits and share them with the wider team. Another way is by conducting engagement surveys every quarter, seeking feedback from your people on everything from their confidence in the future to confidence in leadership to overall satisfaction, among other critical cultural drivers.
The takeaway meals: Building a culture of excellence means pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones to inspire and enable the transformation around us. For some, this may mean extending responsibility for corporate culture beyond HR; for others, it’s about turning words into action. For many, it is all of the above.
Former Campbell Soup Company President and CEO Douglas Conant once said, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.I totally agreed. Improving company culture can feel insurmountable, but the investment is always worth it.