What are your values? Are they the same as your organization’s values? And do they align with the business strategy? If you can say “yes” to these 2 questions, then you have a satisfying job at a highly competitive organization. If you answer “no” to one or both questions, however, then you have some critical work to do to improve your organizational culture.
The one thing that all top global employers do is maintain a consistency and quality of employee engagement, according to the Financial Times. “Trying to fit employees worldwide into one cultural straitjacket could seem detrimental,” the article states. “Modern best practice is instead to consider each local adaptation as a potential global policy.”
It’s the old adage of “think global, act local.” Or to put it another way, have one global purpose and identity, but allow for geographical differences to build and shape it. Global employees must share the corporate values if they are going to align with them and work to uphold them.
In our recent series of executive interviews focused on cultural transformation, Sanofi — one of the world’s most successful pharmaceutical companies, with more than 110,000 people based in more than 100 countries — described its mission to align employees with the corporate purpose. Moving away from separate national divisions, and towards a global organization structured into 5 global business units has been key to this.
“All finance teams now report into one global finance function,” explained Isabelle Schneitter Vialet, Sanofi’s VP of People and Leadership Development. “The purpose is to bring focus, speed, and specialism into our own products and areas, as well as to increase operational excellence for support functions. We believe that in order to be successful, we need to combine this business strategy with a common identity and culture.”
This meant defining a common purpose, ambition, and values. A single global tagline was introduced across the business, as well as a new leadership framework, core competencies, and values.
“We put together a team of millennials and senior leaders, from a mix of geographies and functions, and asked them to draw up these values,” Vialet said. “They identified with courage, respect, teamwork, and integrity. But just because you define them doesn’t make them real. So we are now in dialogue sessions where people have defined what the values mean to them, to their teams, and to themselves.”
The transformation at Sanofi will create a culture and an identity that pulls everyone together. Rather than “erase” the geographic or functional identities, Vialet said, this approach builds on them.
Cultural evolution is about “always making sure to balance that message: what already makes us very special today, what we like, and what we want to build on,” she said. “Culture creates the environment where people can perform and be at their best. That, for me, is why it’s so important.”
This aligns with all the latest research on culture and employee engagement. Companies with strong, positive cultures are now the most in-demand with talented jobseekers. And as CCL’s Bill Pasmore says: “Tapping the collective intelligence of the organization helps the overall change process be faster and more effective — and requires engagement.”
It goes back to the 3 questions addressed at the beginning: if corporate values align with the personal values of employees, and both align with the business strategy, then your organization will achieve success. Competitors that fail to do so will fall by the wayside.
Interested? Explore more information and insights on driving cultural transformation.