Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

May 1, 2023 | Culture Management

Culture management and a good corporate culture go hand in hand. Depending on whom you ask, you might hear some different denotations of good corporate culture and why it’s important. Some will refer to a rich legacy that comes to mind when we talk about a certain company; others will talk about shared beliefs and team norms being special or different. Regardless, most would say that “it” has something to do with the personality of the place and the things that cannot be easily replicated by competitors.  Perhaps it’s what a company espouses to do in the world, how they choose to treat their employees, or how they partner with their customers. Usually, it’s a feeling we get by working at or with a particular company. And make no mistake, companies with good corporate cultures perform better, retain more of their workers, and are typically listed as some of the world’s best and most admired companies.

We know that the Pandemic upended the traditional employment contract, as well as eroded the adjacent trust quotient between the employee and employer. Let’s not pretend it was balanced perfectly before the Pandemic, but it has gotten noticeably worse. In summary, employers could no longer call the shots unilaterally and employees discovered their newly-found bargaining power to negotiate terms and conditions that worked for them, even if they ran counter to the needs of their team or company.

The scales tipped in favor of professional employees in particular; they likely had more bargaining power during the Pandemic than in any of the preceding five or six decades. To add fuel to the fire, the bloated stock and real estate markets made people feel wealthy, and the Pandemic gave them a chance to try retirement on for size. Many liked it and a lot of corporate talent retired in droves. Others stayed at work, but with significantly different terms of engagement. No more nights and weekends, missing Johnny’s soccer game or Julia’s ballet recital. Sure, they would stay employed a while longer, but many were “quiet quitting” and “milking the cow dry.” Some still haven’t left. There’s more of them than you think.

The job market was hot and it was difficult to attract key talent; companies bent over backwards with flexibility, more compensation, bigger titles, and the like. CEOs begged for their employees to return to the office. Then, CEOs demanded that employees return to the office. This was unchartered territory for so many.   

Employees were successful because the demand for talented workers far outstripped supply. After many years of neglect, many employees took advantage of the situation; they discontinued their commutes, moved to tax-favorable dream destinations without their company’s consent, sent their suits to the dry cleaners and left them there. Employees felt empowered to finally “call the shots.” Even to an extent when it was harmful to themselves and their teams- many employees wouldn’t even turn their cameras on for meetings with their managers and co-workers. Interestingly, trust has also eroded among these same workers. Coincidence? I think not. Trust has been eroded because nobody has been managing it.

So, let’s think about those companies and employees that got it right. They took care of each other.  They worked transparently, amicably, and tirelessly through the toughest of times. When finances got tight, peoples’ lives were in jeopardy, and the country needed them to pivot, these employers gave their employees job security at their own peril. When deals needed to be closed, it was employees going above and beyond signing deals on the trunks of their cars in parking lots. When people were feeling disconnected, it was the virtual happy hours and the virtual paint-by-number activities that got these teams through. They’re still together. And they’re thriving!

There is an element of balance and reciprocity needed within any corporate culture. It was heart warming to see so many doing the right things to lift up their teams and to keep their companies afloat without any self-interest. Just like any relationship, the employment relationship needs to be fed on both sides. When it becomes too one-sided, bad things happen to both parties. Disengagement sets in.  Results spiral out of control. Finger-pointing starts. Then, layoffs ensue and there are fewer people left to do more work. Does this sound familiar?

inclineHR has provided culture management services across the Fortune 500®. We’ll partner with you to develop a strategy to retain what makes your organization special, while building a game plan to optimize any opportunity areas.

inclineHR’s culture management services can include:

  1. An Assessment of Your Organization’s Health: Our team will provide you with both qualitative and quantitative engagement and organizational health assessments. We will help you diagnose critical areas needing improvement.
  2. Culture Management Plan: We’ll help you build an unambiguous, goal and value-driven approach to drive clear accountability. Additionally, we will help you to think through best approaches to manage conflict, performance, and changes simultaneously.
  3. Executive Coaching and Leadership Assessment: We’ll work with your leadership team to ensure they have the training, knowledge, and communication skills they need to properly educate their staff on the organization’s values and critical goals.
  4. Executive Communications: We’ll train your leadership team on the art of executive story- telling and influence, while educating them on the importance of communication connectedness.
  5. Team Coaching and Assessment: In addition to your executives, we’ll provide assessment and coaching services to ensure your team understands your organization’s values and culture.
  6. Talent Selection and Onboarding: We’ll give you the resources you need to identify and hire talented individuals who will fit with your organizational culture. We’ll also help you develop an onboarding process that will properly educate them on your values and reinforce your goals.
  7. Capacity Planning: We’ll work with you to improve your organizational culture through effective labor capacity planning. By accurately determining labor needs, you will understand where to invest in staff to improve morale, minimize burnout, and improve organizational output.
  8. Culture Management for Acquisitions and Joint Ventures: Our team will assess cultural nuances with due diligence planning before, during, and after acquisitions & joint ventures.
  9. Training: We offer tailored training sessions, including topics such as: assessing and building trust, energy management, and understanding the art of giving and receiving feedback.

If you’re interested in maintaining or improving your corporate culture, we’d love to better understand your needs. We build exceptional leaders, teams, and cultures through assessment, coaching, and training & development. Learn more at:


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