Managing Corporate Culture article series

In my last article (Managing Corporate Culture – The one absolute truth), I suggested that a CEO examine how he/she is spending his/her time and ensure that the right amount is devoted to the key organizational culture priorities. How much is the right amount? This will differ depending on the maturity of the company and the personnel infrastructure in place. However, it’s safe to say that, if you are intending to grow your company, well over 50% of your time should be spent on culture priorities. The significant majority of this time will be focused on the ‘people’ component (which will be the subject to a number of articles in the future).

Most CEOs are not spending enough time building a strong organizational culture. What is the most common reason for this? Without a doubt, most CEOs are too involved in “working in the business” rather than “working on the business”. This means that the CEO is spending too much time executing operational activities (i.e. sales, operations, admin) rather than having the right people with the right skills handling these. Why does this happen?

  1.  Many young CEOs are not even aware that they should be spending more time on culture priorities.
  2. They are more comfortable with performing “doing” activities rather than ‘CEO culture priorities’ and thus do not delegate these “doing” activities to their employees.
  3. They do not have the right people in place to which to delegate these activities.

The key to creating more time is for the CEO to take the time to review his/her job description and determine which activities should be delegated to another person and how to do that. Sometimes delegating is easy because there are other people within the organization already that are capable of handling the additional responsibility. If this is the case, the CEO should complete the delegate as soon as possible. This not only frees time for the CEO but also enriches the job for the employee – a key component of job satisfaction.

An important thing to remember when delegating new responsibilities – do not assume that the person will be completely self-sufficient from the start. Take the time to work with them as they transition into their new duties.

There are steps to take when there is no one within the organization to which to delegate responsibilities. These will steps will be covered in detail in future articles that focus on ‘having the right people’ in place.  In brief:

  1. Consider outsourcing certain responsibilities if they do not involve the need for a full-time person.
  2. Be ruthless with where you spend your time – i.e. eliminate as many ‘nice to do’ activities and focus on the ‘must do’ activities until you can hire or develop the right people.

The next article will discuss how to articulate a compelling corporate vision and values.

If you have any questions or feedback regarding the content of this article, please email me (Terry Thompson) at

Other articles in the Managing Corporate Culture article series: