If you ask the average business leader why they believe organizational culture is important, it’s more than likely that their answer will focus on talent attraction, retention and employee satisfaction.

And they’d be right. A purpose-driven corporate culture helps your people thrive, brings your employee value proposition to life and enhances your employer brand. A positive team culture has the potential to boost employees’ mental health and help foster a sense of belonging and inclusion.

But this is only a small part of the prize. Although these people-related factors are essential ingredients for business success, taking a narrow view of workplace culture vastly underestimates its potential to unlock truly game-changing results for your organization.

Think bigger: organizational culture is the key to building adaptability and resilience, enabling you to meet a host of external threats ranging from technological disruption to economic uncertainty. Leveraged with intent, your culture has the power to solve some of the toughest business challenges facing your organization including turnover, growth, projects success and innovation.

Korn Ferry’s Worlds’ Most Admired Companies (WMAC) research discovered that two-thirds of senior executives attribute 30% or more of their companies’ market value to culture, while one-third attributed 50% or even more. Across the 500 surveyed executives, organizational culture was cited as the number-one most overlooked, but crucial, factor that determines a company’s success.

Achieving cultural shift takes vision, know-how and the ability to bring stakeholders on the journey. This is why you need an experienced partner with the tools, insights and knowledge to help you make it happen.

“Cultural change requires vision and consistency,” says Sarah Jensen Clayton, Senior Client Partner and Head of Korn Ferry’s Culture, Change, & Communications capability. “Change agents have to navigate everything from a lack of leader role modeling to widespread change resistance, ingrained behaviors, a lack of clarity, and short-term thinking. Attempting to enhance a culture from within the organization can also be complicated by challenges around objectivity and perspective.”

Changing organizational behavior requires a holistic approach

At Korn Ferry, we start with our MASS Model, which defines the Mindsets, Abilities, Structures, and Systems (MASS) that need to be in place to motivate the collective behavior required to drive your strategy. Successful cultural leadership requires the ability to pull all of these change levers in concert to make the new ways of working go viral.

These mechanisms for organizational behavior management may include cultural leadership alignment, gap analysis, blueprint development, behavior modeling, and fixing any policies, processes and practices that are blocking progress towards your cultural change objectives.

Solving the toughest business challenges with organizational culture change

It's time to flip the conversation. Instead of worrying about how a poor culture will hamper or disrupt your business objectives, consider instead how a positive and thriving culture will help overcome some of your most stubborn challenges.

Korn Ferry’s Culture 360 provides guidance on leveraging your culture to:

  • Boost talent attraction and retention: Bringing your employee value proposition (EVP) to life and connecting the work your people do with organizational objectives, vision and values.
  • Mitigate the risk of ethical breaches: Flipping your culture from the biggest source of reputational and compliance risk to becoming your organization’s best defense.
  • Align leaders around a shared vision: Transforming every leader into a Chief Culture Officer who models the company’s culture in their own behavior and coaches others to do the same.
  • Accelerate your business strategy: Using a ‘culture by design’ approach to accelerate business strategy through intentional planning and investment in culture.

Asking the right questions when choosing a company culture consultant

Every corporate culture consulting agency will promise sweeping results, which is why you need to ask targeted questions when choosing a culture solutions partner.

Know what you’re looking for: start by defining your goals, then compile a list of questions around them. To help you find the right fit, our Culture 360 guide includes a list of essential questions to pinpoint how a potential solution provider will help you:

  • Get the planning stage right: Ensure you are focusing on the right things and taking the best course of action.
  • Make the change go viral: Achieve behavioral change at scale.
  • Get everyone on board: Generate employee engagement and buy-in.
  • Measure Return on Culture (ROC): Assess the impact of cultural change initiatives.

Beware of workplace culture consultants who offer vague answers or one-size-fits-all solutions. For example, you should expect the provider to have a rigorous methodology for measuring Return on Culture (ROC). Korn Ferry’s Organizational Culture Assessment involves taking a baseline snapshot of your current state (across no fewer than 26 dimensions of culture), then monitoring progress over time to track movement on the attitudes, norms and behaviors critical to your business strategy.

Finally, it’s important that you know what to expect when working with a culture strategy partner. There shouldn’t be any mystery involved. Ask the provider to detail the exact process, expected costs and timelines for each step.

The 8 steps to take for cultural transformation

Korn Ferry’s cultural transformation team uses a holistic, eight-step process supported by our proprietary tools and high-impact deliverables:

  1. Culture Gauge: Assess the culture you have against the culture you want to get precise on the gaps.
  2. Culture Vision: Answer the question: “What does our culture need to look like in the future?”
  3. Culture Catalyst: Use Korn Ferry’s research base to select your culture change accelerators.
  4. Culture Movement: Create an identity for your movement and sequence change accelerators on a movement-making roadmap.
  5. Capability Building: Coach leaders to become Chief Culture Officers, then cascade learnings to people managers and employees.
  6. Agile Testing: Pilot additional cultural change accelerators and scale what works.
  7. “Always On” Communication: Create ongoing “aha” moments through provocative storytelling and visual influence.
  8. Culture Pulse: Land the KPIs that best tell the story of your cultural evolution.

Cultural Transformation

Is your culture working for or against you?

Navigating stakeholder concerns, naysayers and competing priorities

As the person in charge of building momentum for cultural shift, part of your role will involve bringing stakeholders on board.

Stakeholders may ask about the potential risks and challenges involved in organizational culture change, the specific changes employees will experience and the impact on day-to-day operations; and the resources, support or training available that will help employees adapt. Skeptics may question whether culture is even changeable or may have concerns about the expense and timelines involved.

Our Culture 360 guide provides suggested responses to help you assuage concerns, convince skeptics, and turn blockers into supporters for your business case for cultural change. We’ve also provided guidance around managing the priorities of different stakeholders and groups from the CEO to the Head of HR.

Download Korn Ferry’s Culture 360 guide

Peppered with practical advice and several case studies, Korn Ferry’s Culture 360 guide equips you with everything you need to choose a trusted partner to make your organizational cultural change solution a success.

We discuss how cultural transformation can help solve strategic business objectives, delve into the right questions to ask when choosing a culture solution provider, help you navigate the maze of stakeholder needs and interests, and show you what to expect when working with Korn Ferry’s cultural transformation experts.

Download the full guide here.

Download the Guide