Discovery Leadership Masterclass Series Frank Adu Anim & Kwabena Otu: Leveraging diversified culture for strategic positioning (2)


Things change when the company changes, and as the business grows and expands it’s easy to see how alignment issues become problematic within the organisation. This may result because it obviously takes a lot of intentional effort to keep a growing or large company aligned.

There’s a reason that the tyres on our cars have to be aligned. If one component is out of sync with the rest, it’s impossible to move forward efficiently. In this way, businesses are like cars; there has to be alignment across teams and sectors. In pretty much every other way, companies are entirely different because there’s more than just four tyres to harmonise.

When a company’s strategic goals and direction change, the existing culture may no longer support these objectives. Therefore, aligning cultural diversity can be a very important part of achieving company vision and goals. Despite its significance if managed well, the inability to bring about effective culture change becomes a major barrier to the organisation’s success.

Culture as it may be, is an operational fabric that drives shared behaviours, governance, processes, policies and systems. As an inspirational tool, however, it promotes purpose, vision, mission, values, principles, ambitions, goals which enhance first-hand employee and leadership experiences in the organisation.

Accordingly, when there is no consequence for poor organisation ethics, there is no motivation for improved performance. This statement resonates well by admitting the key to profitable performance is largely dependent on the extent to which business elements are aligned.

Alignment in the organisation setting occurs when all team members have a better understanding of company goals and a clear vision for collective long-term success. Obviously, it’s one thing for everybody to understand what the organisation hopes to achieve, but ensuring the team is aligned with company values plays a crucial role in an organisation’s success. This requires people who believe in the approach and understand the role they and their colleagues collectively play.

Indeed, the hallmark of an organisation that aligns well is its ability to adapt and realign when there is a cause for change. Quite significantly, to appreciate the diversity within the organisation and the need for alignment means prioritising its processes, strategic goals and performance so as to meet its standards and operational benchmarks.

Arguably, while leadership remains responsible and resolute in championing the development and deployment of organisational strategy and monitoring the results, it must ensure its structure, processes and operations deployed work optimally. The understanding of these business elements’ interdependencies and ability to adapt and strategically position the organisation remains the recipe for its high performance.

Aligning culture for Performance

Does the organisation want to improve profitable performance? Then it needs to institute an effective performance management framework, seeking to fuel and propel the organisation for quality standards improvements and results. In fact, performance management as a tool sets clear expectations, tracks progress, provides regular feedback and creates continuous improvement for growth. To manage performance is to ensure that employees’ efforts are aligned with the strategic objectives which ought to contribute to the organisation’s success.

However, one thing remains obvious – and that is organisations which lack this alignment usually see delayed projects, incomplete tasks, lacking team coordination and disengaged employees. Nevertheless, when the culture is aligned, it gives clear direction for how employees can execute their tasks and keep in line with the company’s larger goals during the process. Interestingly, a culture built on performance alignment brings clarity to larger goals of the company, as well as guaranteeing performance achievement. Besides, without alignment it’s easy to see how employees can become disillusioned and start to feel like the work they do doesn’t really matter.

How to build a positive organisational culture

There are several questions that beg for answers when it comes to building a positive organisational culture. The question is, are employees well aware of the performance evaluation system in the organisation? Does the organisation ever use and share feedback to help alignment of work with key business goals? Is the business strategy a document sitting on the laptops of top management?

Attempts to address these critical business concerns require deliberate efforts to understand why organisations need to build a dynamic organisational culture capable of addressing management of its structures and behavioural deficits in the business. This is so because the well-aligned culture represents a key to effectively driving the business’s goals and strategies. Again, sharpening the organisation’s capability to listen, observe, learn and act, seek input and recommendations from everyone in terms of what they see with customers, processes and inefficiencies helps to chart a better course for building a consolidated culture revamped for robust performance and success.

That said, in order to make the most of creative potential in diverse workplaces, employees need opportunities to engage and interact with each other. This, in essence, will see to bringing together different departments and workplace experiences by way of collaborating. Also, incorporating a short team-building activity into company meetings is regarded as a good initiative to start with.

 Consolidating a diversified and aligned culture for positioning

It is acknowledged that corporate leaders actively create opportunities for employees of diverse backgrounds to climb the corporate ladder and participate in all aspects of the company’s operations. In fact, workplace diversity is mostly interpreted to mean a well-balanced team in regard to race, gender, religion, age, sexuality and physical ability or disability. Diversity covers personality differences, employees’ cognitive abilities, marital status, experience, cultural beliefs and level of education.

A team lacking in alignment is like a shopping cart with one bad wheel, it’s frustrating and  a lot harder to move in the right direction. This is especially true if employees of diverse backgrounds are unable to see a future for themselves at the company. A lack of diversity in company leadership sends a message to some that advancement will not be available to them. This development often encourages employees to look elsewhere.

In consequence, when people notice there is a high employee turnover, its impact on the organisation is that it creates negative morale for employees – thereby making them shift their focus onto other things. This makes employees inclined to pursue other career opportunities outside the organisation, instead of focusing on their commitment to that organisation.

What is performance alignment?

Performance alignment is essentially ensuring that all of your employees across the company are meaningfully working toward the organisation’s goals. To start a shift toward performance management begins by ensuring there is a current, relevant and clear company mission, and goals and values. It might seem obvious, but an organisation cannot have alignment if does not have a crystal-clear picture of what it’s aligning with.

The result of a focus on performance alignment is a workforce that’s not only performing, but also feeling engaged and satisfied with the work they’re doing along the way. Aligned teams are more collaborative, more willing to compromise and support one another in their desire to meet expected outcomes.

Managing Culture and Performance


We make a case that when the spotlight is on improving performance, too many managers move in to ask “how?” Not managing performance remains a great way of encouraging people to withhold effort or not take the slightest risk to solve problems or improve performance on their own; and to build resentment among the staff, particularly the best and brightest who will flee when they find a better opportunity.

Conversely, effectively managing employee performance ought to be tied to the achievement of goals. Often seen performance components are measured in quantifiable terms. Here, measurement become the yardstick to determine success and employee accomplishment. Some examples of useful measurements include: quality, quantity and timeliness, and productivity and financial cost-effectiveness. Also, it is imperative that productivity metrics be reviewed frequently and goals evaluated continuously throughout the performance period.

Certainly, unclear or improperly communicated roles and responsibilities make it difficult for employees to understand how their performance contributes to the overall business strategy. As a result, employees may struggle to prioritise tasks, collaborate effectively and make decisions aligned with strategic goals. This aspect ought to be checked frequently.

Changing the cultural narratives

Strategies must be flexible and adaptable in today’s dynamic business landscape. Why? Because static performance management may fail to capture emerging priorities, and this may hinder agility. This as a result will see misaligned goals, wasted resources and missed growth opportunities – limiting the organisation’s ability to respond effectively to evolving market demands.

When employees question the fairness and objectivity of performance evaluations, goal-setting and reward-systems; when they don’t trust and so are not aligned to the organisation’s management framework and culture, they become disengaged, reluctant to take risks and less motivated to align their efforts with the organisation’s strategy.

The lack of clearly-defined roles and responsibilities, on the other hand, also becomes a major obstacle to profitable performance. Therefore, letting people figure this out for themselves can be counter-productive, and is too important a criterion to leave to chance.

In conclusion, we cite the famous quote by Adam Grant – stating that it’s hard to keep an open mind if we do not keep an open heart. One does not have to agree with what people think to learn from how they think. We do not have share one’s identity to be curious about what shaped it; and treating people with civility is a prerequisite for discovery – and this speaks to cultural diversity and inclusion.

Discovery…thinking solutions, shaping visions.

Frank Anim is the CEO and Strategic Partner of AQUABEV Investment and Discovery Consulting Group, and Kwabena Otu is the Director & Travel Consultant, DeRoyal Int’l Travel and Tour Ltd.)

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