In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help HR leaders navigate this unpredictable time.
On i4cp’s October 16, 2020 CHRO/HR Strategy Action series call, HR leaders from a wide range of organizations joined for an open discussion of organizational culture led by i4cp Chief Research Officer Kevin Martin. Here are some of the highlights from the conversation:
Focusing early on culture is critical during a merger / acquisition. Several leaders on the call described recent M&A activity and how their focus on culture was critical to the success of the process. The comments aligned with the results of i4cp's study Avoid Acquisition Acrimony: How to Analyze Culture Synergy Early (available to i4cp members, who should also see i4cp's M&A Due Diligence Checklist for HR). A key point made was the need to respect both cultures, while noting that integration ultimately needs to occur. The way to do this is to renovate the combined culture, keeping the best parts of the two, as prescribed in i4cp's study Culture Renovation: A Blueprint for Action.
What are companies doing different now regarding DEI? Following-up further on discussion around diversity, equity, and inclusion from last week, several call participant shared why this time will be different. For one, there is focus on real action, not just the right-sounding words. There is also far more candor at the leadership level, about policy and behavior. Organizations are now better equipped, and taking more seriously, their metrics around DEI than in the past. Many organizations are being more transparent about many of these metrics, as well as their goals and policies, to some extent publicly but even more so internally. And there is very strong focus to have consistency in behavior and policy from the CEO all the way through the organization.
Agility rules the day. We've continued to hear a lot about the importance of agility both before and after i4cp's report in 2017, The Three A's of Organizational Agility: Reinvention Through Disruption. Participants on the call today emphasized multiple types of agility: agility in learning, agility in what practices they adopt, agility to be curious, and more. These are behaviors they variously said they look for when hiring and also try to embed in their organizational cultures. Regarding agile learning they emphasized a focus on horizontal career growth, upskilling, and adjacent skill development in particular.
Culture in remote, hybrid, and in-person environments. Discussion also arose on the challenges of building and maintaining a culture virtually. While there are many benefits to remote work, many on the call agreed that it is easier to sense and understand an organization's culture when in a physical environment, e.g., seeing each other, benefiting from physical artifacts that represent the culture, etc. This is one reason to have hybrid and flexible work options where possible. In particular, for heavily relationship-driven cultures, it can take longer or otherwise be harder if the organization is used to being in-person and has had to shift to being virtual only.
In addition to this recording, please see the i4cp Coronavirus Employer Resource Center for new research and next practices to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.