By Bildard Baguma – MD Joint Medical Stores

Leaders especially new leaders like CEOs and Managers struggle to influence the desired corporate culture and values as per the company strategy and Vision. As A.G Lafley and Roger L. Martin in Playing to Winput it, in strategy there are no absolute answers and nothing lasts forever meaning that successful outcomes are not guaranteed.

Corporate culture can break or make an organisation thereby pronouncing the nature of its future. Culture is the source of continuity and action where adaptive behaviours are performed in organizational climate from which they strengthen[i]. A culture that embraces the notions of transparency, accountability and liberalism will propel any organisation to greater heights. I believe we can influence corporate culture if we start with the “small acts” which are often ignored and create a supporting environment/ climate. It is these small acts that when combined yield the desired corporate culture and perfection.

I do not think any organisation can claim to possess the ideal corporate culture, however, we let the results speak for the personality and culture of the organisation. Fortunately, or unfortunately for me, my journey at Joint Medical Store (JMS) in 2015, started with a restructuring process where all staff had to apply for their jobs afresh creating the mind-set that new jobs meant change in attitude, values and culture.

However, mind set was not enough, enforcing the change took a while. The fear for job security translated to distrust of management and ultimately any policy even when it was pro- staff. The suspicion created a dark cloud, however, with the truth however ugly, we were able to lighten the atmoshpere.We created a culture change team (SPARK team) that was composed of change champions from across the organization that influenced staff towards the new way of working reinforcing the good cultures in existence and changing the cultural aspects that needed to change. This I believe helped to shape the new culture that was necessary for the new reality that we faced.

There is a fallacy that long serving staff usually understand the vision of a company and therefore its corporate culture. Long serving staff hold institutional memory but also hold dearly to “..this is the way things are done here..” mentality and require more to align their values to changing needs of the organisation. If handled well, they inspire confidence and influence the perception of new staff in a company. At JMS, we leveraged these, to remind staff of the over aching mission which despite changing strategies we had to remain true to.

We needed to focus on the results to push out any defiant voices that sought to send out a different agenda. Results were easy to monitor, leading to transparency and accountability. This was then tagged to any benefits expected from the company such as bonuses and 13th Cheques. Most importantly, this accelerated individual accountability.

On a green note, we pushed for results as opposed to processes. This pushed defiant staff to adapt or be pushed out in the interest of the organisation (Radcliffe- Brown’s Structural functionalist culture). All organisations have different sets of cultures and values depending on their perceptive, however, with adaptability, you can be sure of weathering any storm

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