A commonly quoted phrase in the business world is attributed to management guru Peter Drucker, who said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Fun fact: It seems impossible to actually find the quote as stated by Drucker. I know this because I’ve spent nearly an entire evening on the internet trying. Hundreds of sources attribute the quote to Drucker, but I can’t seem to find when or where Drucker actually coined the phrase himself. The closest I can find is a 2006 quote by Mark Fields, who was with Ford Motor Company and eventually became the company’s CEO, who attributed the phrase to Drucker. Regardless of how many hours I put into bringing you that useless trivia, the quote stands on its own and just as well have been Drucker’s if anyone’s.
As you’ll read in this month’s Real Issues. Real Answers. feature, company culture is at the heart of a major challenge faced by nearly everyone reading this magazine: attracting and retaining quality team members. Without a recognizable (and positive) company culture, not only will you fail in bringing on new employees, you’ll risk losing the ones you have as well. Chances are, we’ve all had one of those jobs where the culture was so toxic employees either didn’t last long, or if they stayed, they spent much of their day complaining.
We know companies are more conscious than ever of the culture within their ranks. We see it in the barrage of news stories about overall cultural and economic shifts driving a shortage of workers as the country weens itself from a pandemic. Some companies we’ve heard from have solved the labor issue by raising wages and offering benefits and perks previously reserved for tech startups. Other companies (many in the LBM sector) are already as lean as can be and find that enhancing their cultures must come not through extra expenses, but intangible benefits such as schedule flexibility, remote work, and collaborative career pathing.
Placing an ad in the paper and having a new hire follow a grizzled veteran around for a couple days before throwing them to the fire is becoming a thing of the past. As you can see from the more than 200 reader comments, leaders in the LBM industry are embracing outreach, inspiration, and engagement not only to establish the culture of their companies, but to work collaboratively with team members to decide what the company culture is going to be. While the word cloud graphic on page 32 shares some of the most-often used words from comments that readers submitted—family, integrity, honesty, among others—I think the future of our company cultures can also be found in some of the smaller words, such as transparency, involved, and servant.
Are you doing something at your workplace that improves and promotes an all-star company culture? If so, I’d love to hear about it, and to share your philosophy with our readers. Drop me a line at email@example.com.
— James Anderson