Culture vs. employee engagement

Avoiding the runaway strategy bus (or getting it under control before it crashes)

Only 12 percent of companies surveyed in 2016 believe they understand their work culture, and in 2015 less than half reported they were prepared to tackle employee engagement.

We're having a #TBT moment

We're thinking about the classic '90s movie, Speed. You remember it—there's a runaway bus that can't drop below 50 mph or it will explode AND the driver is critically injured—dun dun dun…. Cue Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock jumping in and guiding the bus safely through traffic while diffusing the bomb and saving the day. What brought this to mind (other than a recent TV movie marathon on a rainy Sunday afternoon)? It's a situation we see play out repeatedly in the workplace.

Taking a passive approach to culture and employee engagement

Some leaders unintentionally set up their organizations in this way by taking a passive approach to corporate culture and employee engagement. Dramatic, we know, but stick with us for a minute. The organizations are cruising along on the path to executing their strategy, and things are going pretty well, so no one pays much attention to the driver or vehicle, helping them navigate their journey until things start to veer off course. By then there are often timing constraints, transformations, leadership transitions, or other complicating factors that create additional tension and barriers to getting back on course. In one scenario, the organization is a little derailed on the journey to executing its strategy or it misses earnings for a quarter; in extreme cases, we may see the consequences play out on the front page and in the blogosphere, harming corporate and employer brands in the process.

But things don't have to get this far. With some thoughtful planning and management, leaders can effectively match the driver of strategy execution—culture—and the vehicle—employee engagement—to set themselves up for a strategy execution ride that's less Speed and more Driving Miss Daisy.


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