OPINION | The values of a company are deeply rooted in its culture. They unite employees and put them in motion, in a world that is itself constantly evolving. For the collective, it is DNA, the source code from which to develop. For the individual, it is the compass that guides him in the storm. The strength of conviction that prevents it from stalling in the acceleration phase. But what happens when, against the backdrop of a health crisis, the turmoil suddenly turns into a generalized disaster? More battered than ever, will corporate values be swept away? On the contrary, will they manage to reset themselves in the context of the world after? The question, fascinating as it is, is above all crucial.
By Melchior du Boullay, Managing Director of Club Freelance & Mindquest
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”
This will not have escaped anyone’s notice: the younger generations are increasingly sensitive to the values conveyed by their employer. Result: the corporate culture today represents a real point of differentiation and a strong lever of attractiveness. As eminent theorist and business management consultant Peter Drucker wrote: Culture eats strategy for breakfast, which can be translated by: culture eats strategy for breakfast. This in no way means that strategy plays a minor role in development and success, but rather that only a strong corporate culture, forged on values that are equally so, will be able to mobilize and unite all employees for them. lead sustainably on the road to success. In addition, there is what we say and what we do, and it is therefore always necessary to ensure the right balance between values and strategy. Corporate culture can only exist if the leader is in tune with it and embodies it on a daily basis in his actions. Thus, we can no longer set ourselves up as a defender of ecology and forming questionable partnerships with polluting companies. The situation has changed! Companies are now faced with the urgent need to change their culture while taking into account changes in society. It’s all well and good to suddenly claim a value in the air, well perceived internally, but it is still necessary to apply it in a concrete way, otherwise your employees will not feel concerned or involved.
Values are concrete
The values of a company are not abstract. They are built according to its activity, its size or even the sociology of its employees. Each time they cover a way of being and of acting, behaviors and rites, rules and processes. I deeply believe that a strategy which suddenly deviates from its axis, without relying on the reality of its values, would be doomed to failure. In the event of accelerated development, crisis or pivot, the culture of the company must obviously s’adapter, but in no case to deny oneself. To do this, you have to start by listening to what employees have to say. The values, unlike strategy, do not come from above but from the base. They are a glue, a pledge of solidity and make culture a sort of superior authority. It is thus not uncommon to hear employees refer to it easily, even with deferral, as if invoking culture was the answer to everything: ” we do like that, because it’s in our culture “. And it is not for nothing that the operational efficiency of a company relies heavily on internal communication. We must constantly remind ourselves of the values we want to share and relentlessly have those who put them into practice every day. And, this is all the more true in crisis situation. A value is not just a word, launched on the fly. What matters in the first place is the way in which everyone will appropriate it, to embody it and bring it to life in their work.
Tap into its values to re-enchant the future
A business going through a major crisis will always rebound thanks to the involvement of its employees. Just look at what has been happening since the start of this pandemic. Corporate culture has played a decisive role in everyone’s ability to adapt. Faced with an unprecedented situation, individuals have been able to reset their values. Take the example of autonomy. Today as yesterday, the word remains the same, but the reality it covers has totally changed. Just two years ago, being autonomous meant being free to act within your area of competence, without having to report to your manager on a daily basis. With the Covid and the rise of teleworking, the notion has broadened. Many now manage everything on their own: their schedule as well as their work organization. Tomorrow, everyone will have to learn the lessons of this period. This is the main challenge that awaits companies if they want to re-enchant the future: how to develop its values without disengaging its troops and, above all, how to capitalize on the achievements of the health crisis? They will have to rethink everything: question their values, create working groups, report on the feelings, experiences and desires of each. It is becoming urgent to identify the differences between the world before and the world after, in order to redefine the right processes and the most efficient action plans. Vast and beautiful program!
An op-ed by Melchior du Boullay, Managing Director of Club Freelance & Mindquest