The legendary management consultant Peter Drucker famously wrote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Few truer things have been said about the world of work. It’s even truer today as Millennials place a higher emphasis on culture when choosing where to work and from which companies to buy. All evidence suggests the same is true — if not even more — of Generation Z, which is just now entering the workforce.
What exactly is company culture? One definition says it is simply “the way things are done around here.” What drives the way things are done includes the organization’s vision (which provides it with purpose), its values (guiding leader and employee behaviors), practices (the way things get done), and other factors. Some companies seek to reinforce their existing cultures while others want to change theirs to something better. (Consider Uber, whose new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is so determined to change the company’s toxic culture that he published the company’s “new cultural norms” on LinkedIn, where they could be seen by employees, prospective employees, investors, and every other stakeholder. Those norms were crafted as part of a process that involved inviting employees to play a significant role; 1200 submitted recommendations that received more than 22,000 votes.)
Communicators clearly have a significant part to play in changing or bolstering a company’s culture, from crafting and communicating a strategic narrative to shining a light on desired behaviors.
On Thursday, March 15, FIR host Shel Holtz moderated a panel with four of his Fellows colleagues — Amanda Hamilton-Attwell, Kellie Garrett, March Schumann, and Jim Shaffer — to discuss the role communications can play in building and sustaining a strong corporate culture. Watch the video replay here or listen to the podcast. (Subscribe to the podcast and you’ll never miss an episode!)
About the panel
Dr. Amanda Hamilton-Attwell, accredited by both IABC and PRSA. She is Managing Director of Business DNA, based in South Africa, which provides strategic research and consulting, including communication audits, customer service and other focused research and training in communication skills. Her career has also included a 15-year stint as a research manager for the National Productivity Institute.
Kellie Garrett, based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Kellie is a speaker, coach, and strategist, as well as an associate professor at Royal Roads Univesity. Before launching her own business, Kellie was Senior VP of Strategy, Knowledge, and Reputation for Farm Credit Canada.
Mark Schumann is the director of graduate business communication programs for the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, City University of New York. He is also founder and principal of re-communicate. Most recently, he was VP of marketing and communications for Western Connecticut Health Network. He served as IABC’s chair in 2009-2010. He was a managing principal and global communication practice leader at Towers Perrin for 26 years.
Jim Shaffer is a business advisor, leadership coach, author, and speaker. As leader of the Jim Shaffer Group, he helps organizations accelerate results through superior strategy execution. The Jim Shaffer Group creates hard business results by translating the business strategy to the people who need to implement it, aligning systems, processes, and culture to make the gains sustainable. Jim was an architect and leading practitioner of Towers Perrin’s (now Towers Willis Watson) change management consulting practice. He designed and produced the IABC Academy Course, “Managing Change Communication to Drive Results and Value.” Some of his change management clients have included: Abbott, ConAgra Foods, FedEx, IBM, ITT, Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, Owens Corning, Pfizer, Toyota.