by Joshua Plenert, PE, MS, MBA
Far too often organizations will unknowingly sacrifice long-term success for a few short-term gains. They get so caught up in the urgent things that they lose sight of the important things. Like jeopardizing the stability of a structure by not paying enough attention to the integrity of the foundation. A healthy corporate culture is that important foundation that will sustain your organization and make long-term success achievable.
Culture is inevitable. Ignoring the culture of your organization doesn’t make it go away. A culture will develop with or without any intervention from the leadership. But keep in mind, not all culture is good. And, not every culture is the right fit. Some cultures can drive very negative behaviors, toxic attitudes, and even unethical business practices. In order to ensure an organization develops into something to be proud of, the culture will need to be deliberately led.
The easiest places to start with culture is the corporate strategy. The strategy and the culture must be aligned. A strategy that is not aligned with the culture of the organization is nothing more than wishful thinking. All strategic planning efforts need to be designed to support a healthy culture. Otherwise, strategic initiatives will face serious resistance from the members of the organization and will at most produce only short-term gains but never sustainable improvements.
Leaders will often hope for high-performing teams. A desire that is not possible without a healthy culture of collaboration, cooperation, and a strong sense of belonging. Any leader that wants to see higher levels of performance, needs to be focusing on leading the culture in a healthier direction. Simply driving the team harder or increasing levels of micro-management will only increase resistance. High-performance teams are born from high-performance cultures.
A forensic engineer walking into a structure with the purpose of evaluating its structural integrity will likely cringe if significant and wide-spread issues with the stability of the structure’s foundation are easily visible. Correcting a failing foundation can be a serious undertaking and in some cases isn’t worth the cost. But the sooner you can catch the slipping foundation and take actions to stabilize it, the more likely you will be to save the structure.
A healthy culture is the solid foundation your organization must build on for stable long-term success. The sooner you correct any failing aspects of your cultural foundation, the more likely you will be to ensure your organization will continue to thrive far into the future.
About the Author
Joshua Plenert is highly passionate about the continuous improvement of organizations in the AEC industry. He is currently a Regional Director for an Architecture and Engineering firm where he has been a key player in the development of two highly profitable branch offices. He holds a master’s degree in Structural Engineering as well as an MBA. He has also enjoyed teaching engineering courses at the university level and is the author of Strategic Excellence in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Industries.