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March 2020
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TD Magazine

All Talk, No Action

Business leaders see the value of culture but are doing little to improve it.

Executive-level leaders believe in the importance of corporate culture, but their actions are saying otherwise. That's according to Eagle Hill Consulting's Corporate Culture and the C-Suite Agenda report.

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Across the board, the study's 56 C-suite executive participants agree that corporate culture has a positive effect on their companies. Three-quarters say corporate culture is one of the top reasons employees join their company. Nearly as many feel that company culture directly affects financial performance. No one disagreed with that statement.

However, only a few of the executive respondents said their organizations were not acting to define and improve their cultures. Less than half (40 percent) said their organizational policies and procedures are aligned to their company's culture. A mere 56 percent agreed that their organization clearly articulates the key attributes of its company culture.

Leaders' inability to clearly define their organizational cultures and align their policies and procedures accordingly may contribute to challenges with accountability. Only 46 percent of study participants said that their organizations hold employees accountable for culture, and only 56 percent said their organizations do so for leaders.

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Talent development professionals have prioritized corporate culture for years. The results of this research show that the effort finally has paid off. Executives are on board. They see the value. Talent development no longer needs to make the case for corporate culture's importance.

Now, it's essential to start turning consensus into action. Talent development leaders must work with business leaders on taking tangible steps to drive change. They need to focus their efforts on formally defining culture, developing policies and procedures that align with it, and fostering systems of accountability to uphold and reinforce it.

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About the Author

Eliza Blanchard, APTD, is ATD's Learning & Development content manager. Contact her at eblanchard@td.org.

1 Comment
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At different times in my career, I've been in management meetings where everyone says all the right things about the importance of corporate culture. Then we'd all go back out to the daily work and the burning fires of the day overwhelm the good intentions. " turning consensus into action" is what everyone knows they should do. Action is easier to talk about than to do, and we as Learning Professionals all need to own the actions we perform, and don't.
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