The one absolute truth

Terry Thompson, Surrey, BC, CYBF Mentor,

Managing Corporate Culture article series

In my last article (Managing Corporate Culture – The essential factor for success), I revealed how critical the role of the CEO is to building corporate culture. It is not a surprise to learn that the one absolute truth relates to this conclusion. That truth is that the CEO must be prepared to spend considerable time on the priority areas. Depending upon the CEO time commitments and skills, this may require a major behaviour change for the CEO. Like any behaviour change (e.g. quitting smoking, eating better, exercising more, etc.), a personal program is needed to ensure its success.

The key to developing a behaviour change program for a CEO related corporate culture is to:

  1.  Evaluate the gap that exists between the company’s current status and the target status with respect to:
    • Articulating a compelling vision and values
    • Having the right people (particularly managers) in place
    • Ensuring effective internal corporate communication
  2. Evaluate the shortfalls of  time spent by and skills of the CEO (and managers) in these areas and
  3. Develop a critical path to eliminate these gaps over time

It is important not to try to do everything at once. Like any behaviour change, the more drastic and immediate the change, the less likely it is to be successful. You should develop a plan that takes into account the realities of your current situation, particularly time. In my case, I approached it as follows:

  1. I analyzed my job description including my role related to corporate culture priorities and then:
    • Determined how much time I should be spending in each key area
    • Determined how much time I was actually spending in each key area and identified reasons for discrepancies where it was not the desired amount
    • Determined the steps to take to be more in line with the desired time spent (in the short run, I just worked more hours in order to get the corporate culture initiative off the ground)
  2. Upgraded the corporate vision/values and internal communication areas
  3. Upgraded my knowledge and skills around recruiting and retaining the right people
  4. Developed a executed a plan to upgrade our people

Your test is that if you cannot accomplish items number 1 and 2 above (analyzing CEO’s role and upgrading vision/values and internal communication), you will not be able to move to items 3 and 4. In my next articles I will provide more details regarding how I approached 1 and 2 above. After that I will get into 3 and 4.

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

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