Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Change Organisational Culture, Improve Performance

Published:Monday | February 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Leon Mitchell (left) makes a point to Gary Allen.

Some of the country's high-level private-sector leaders are urging organisations to deepen their focus on culture to improve performance, competitiveness and drive growth in a globalised economy.

The sector leaders were guests at an ongoing leadership series organised and hosted by the Corporate Education Division of the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) in St Andrew.

Gary Allen, managing director of the RJR Communications Group, one of the presenters at the forum, says one of the main challenges for leaders of particularly large organisations is the existence of various sub-cultures within some businesses. However, he says leaders must find ways to coalesce those sub-cultures into one overarching culture that can help to support strategy.

"You have to identify the culture you have, and you also identify the culture that you want; and in many of our organisations, there is not just one culture," Allen explained.

But he cautioned that the process does not end there. He says when leaders have identified the kind of culture they desire, they have to ensure that it fits the various groups in the organisation.

"Don't try to align something that does not fit," he advised, adding that all parties need to buy into the vision being articulated by the leadership. "Are they on-board the bus?" is a major question leaders should ask themselves, he suggested.

He says once buy-in is achieved, organisations should move to create the strategic framework for the company or business.

Execution is the next step, he outlined, but it should not be done in isolation. Allen says leaders must engage in constant monitoring and evaluation.


"You must honestly evaluate," he said. "The worst thing in your organisation is when you have to sit down face to face with the person and have that heart-to-heart talk about how you have been functioning against the goals of the company within the strategy that we want and the things we are trying to change."

Concurring with the points raised by Allen, Leon Mitchell, assistant general manager, Jamaica National Building Society, added that some private- and public-sector leaders could learn a lot about the importance of organisational culture from some of the nation's top-ranked high schools.

"In those schools are all the elements that make a people great," he said. "You will find a clear vision that tells you who they are and where they want to be; standards and values that tell you what they stand for and what the expectations of each student is. These schools have detailed knowledge of their history and have the zeal to preserve it."