Aligning organisational culture with strategy: The key to success

Organisational culture is like the personality of a business – it's made up of the shared values, beliefs and practices that guide employee behaviour. On the other hand, the strategy also outlines the company's goals and how it aims to achieve success.

When organisational culture and strategy work well together, it can lead to better results, a happier workforce and a stronger brand identity. In short, aligning culture with strategy is key to success.

A study from 2017 by Board Agenda & Mazars in association with INSEAD found that many companies recognise the importance of aligning culture with strategy but don't actually prioritise it when assessing performance. For example:

  • Less than half of the companies featured in the study discuss culture in their board meetings.
  • Only a fifth of companies fully consider their culture.
  • Just 5% are very confident that their desired culture matches their actual culture.

To align culture and strategy, a company needs to understand its core values and goals and make sure these are reflected in organisational culture. For instance, if a company wants to be known for innovation, it should encourage its employees to take risks and think creatively. And if an organisation wants to expand into new markets, it should invest in the capabilities needed to adapt and grow.

Getting this alignment right requires effort from the leaders of the company and support from everyone else. This might mean changing how the company hires people, creating new training programmes, or improving communication. By doing this, an organisation can create a workplace where everyone works well together and helps the company succeed.

A key to success: Aligning organisational culture

The Mazars study reveals that most businesses understand it's important to align culture with strategy, but they face challenges to make it a reality. This issue can pose a serious risk to an organisation.


Key findings:

  • Only 43% discuss culture in board meetings.
  • Just 20% consider their organisation's culture.
  • Merely 5% are confident their desired culture aligns with reality.

Action needed:

  • Prioritise culture in decision-making.
  • Align culture with strategic goals for success.

Without paying attention to organisational culture, workplaces can become chaotic. With a lack of people management, plans lack direction and inefficient communication can get in the way of goals.

By following these steps, companies can create a united and goal-focused workplace that helps them reach their main objectives.

Describing organisational culture is key to success

Defining the organisational culture and making sure everyone knows about it are really important first steps in matching culture with strategy. To do this, you need to figure out the values, beliefs and ways of doing things that support the organisational culture. It's crucial to make these things clear and easy for everyone to understand because otherwise, they just stay as ideas in your head.

But it's not as easy as just writing down some values and putting them on the walls. That might help a bit, but what really matters is everyone’s behaviour. Organisational culture is basically how the leaders act – how they communicate, how they solve problems and so on. These aspects get passed on to everyone else and have a big impact on how well the organisation performs overall.

Set effective communication as a primary objective

Ineffective communication can prevent an organisation’s success. When employees don't have the right information, they can't finish their tasks, learn new skills, or help the company succeed in the long run.

Proper communication brings people together for a common goal and is a key to success. It breaks down cultural differences, reduces conflicts at work and encourages teamwork.

To align culture with strategy, good communication is crucial. Ways to achieve this include open discussions and being honest in all communications. Companies that understand the obstacles to efficient communication can create strategies that break down barriers and keep everyone on the same page, helping to align culture with strategy.

Consider aligning your values with your vision


If your values don't match your goals, your business strategy is likely to fail.

The management needs to know what the company believes in and these beliefs should guide its goals. It's important to advise the employees about organisational values. If they don't know what the organisation stands for, how can they help achieve the organisation’s goals?

Take a fresh look at the organisation’s mission statement

Align organisational culture and strategy through mission statement. Make it a story that leaders and managers can share with teams. This story should talk about the company's values and beliefs and show how everyone helps achieve the company's goals. Make it so clear that employees can imagine it and feel a part of it and remind them to keep this mission in mind in everything they do.

Employee engagement is a key to success

How engaged employees are directly affects how well they and the company will perform. It affects how easily the employees are hired; how much work gets done, how long individuals stay with the company and how much profit the company makes.

Employees who are committed to the organisation’s goals really care about the company and how others perceive it. They feel a strong connection to the company they work for and their work feels important.

Employee engagement isn't something a business can ignore and neither is the need to align culture with strategy. By focusing on these important areas, leaders like you can create a culture that fits with the company's goals, leading to better performance and satisfied employees.

Learn about organisational culture with Global Banking School (GBS)


GBS is a well-known higher education institution in the UK, known for its specialist courses in fields such as finance, business, healthcare and more. With a wide presence in major UK cities, the institution is dedicated to its mission of “changing lives through education”.

GBS strives to support its students in succeeding in today's tough job market. It provides strong connections to employers and emphasises personalised academic and career guidance alongside specialised courses. The institution adopts an inclusive approach to student recruitment, seeking to increase access to higher education for groups that are currently under-represented in the field.

GBS offers BA (Hons) Business and Management Progression Route (Level 6 Top-up) for students who want to understand organisational culture to help their businesses grow or want to become business professionals who want to create a difference.

BA (Hons) Business and Management Progression Route (Level 6 Top-up)

Modern companies are seeking business professionals who not only possess relevant knowledge and skills but are also prepared to join their teams and make an impact. This one-year degree completion course will enhance your business knowledge and practical skills, allowing you to upgrade your HND to a full bachelor's degree.

Upon completing this degree, you'll be equipped and qualified to tackle the challenges of today's workplaces. Throughout this level 6 course, you'll deepen your understanding of modern business theory and practice. You'll receive ample opportunities and support to hone the essential skills necessary for success in the business world.

The course modules will cover vital concepts in organisational strategy, leadership and management. Practical assignments and assessments will mirror real-world scenarios, such as pitching, presenting, reporting, group management and project leadership.

You'll acquire valuable skills and knowledge applicable across various sectors. With this degree, your career prospects will be diverse, ranging from positions in large corporations to small businesses, both in the private and public sectors and even opportunities for entrepreneurship.

Frequently asked questions about organisational culture

Organisational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that characterise a company or workplace. It encompasses the way individuals interact with each other, how decisions are made and the overall atmosphere or "feel" of the organisation.

Some benefits of a strong organisational culture include:

  • Employee morale and satisfaction: A positive organisational culture can create a supportive and inclusive work environment where employees feel valued and motivated.
  • Increased productivity: When employees feel connected to the organisation and its values, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work, leading to higher levels of productivity.
  • Better teamwork and collaboration: A strong organisational culture encourages open communication, trust and cooperation among team members, leading to improved collaboration and teamwork.
  • Enhanced recruitment and retention: A positive organisational culture can attract top talent to the company and help retain existing employees by fostering a sense of belonging and loyalty.
  • Improved decision-making: A well-defined organisational culture provides a framework for decision-making and guides employees in aligning their actions with the organisation's goals and values.
  • Adaptability and innovation: A supportive and flexible organisational culture encourages creativity and innovation by empowering employees to take risks and experiment with new ideas.

Yes, organisational culture can be managed. Leaders and managers play a crucial role in shaping and influencing the culture of an organisation through various strategies and actions.

One key approach is defining and articulating core values that guide the organisation's behaviour and decision-making processes. Additionally, leaders can lead by example by demonstrating the desired values and behaviours themselves, setting the tone for the entire organisation.

Open and transparent communication about the organisation's goals, values and expectations is also essential for fostering trust and alignment among employees. Recruiting individuals who align with the organisation's values and cultural norms during the hiring process can help reinforce and strengthen the desired culture.

Organisational culture plays a significant role in shaping the workplace environment and employee behaviour. It influences how employees interact with one another and with their superiors. A culture that values collaboration and open communication fosters teamwork and mutual support among employees, creating a positive and inclusive workplace atmosphere.

The key to a successful organisational culture lies in strong leadership and clear communication of core values. Leaders who embody and promote the organisation's values set the tone for the entire workplace and guide employees' behaviour.

Additionally, fostering open communication channels where employees feel heard and valued allows for transparency and trust to thrive within the organisation. Moreover, maintaining consistency in upholding these values and promoting them through actions, policies and practices reinforces the desired culture.

Ultimately, when leaders prioritise and actively cultivate a positive and inclusive organisational culture, it creates a work environment where employees feel motivated, engaged and aligned with the organisation's goals, leading to overall success.

When you align culture with strategy, several positive outcomes can occur within an organisation, such as:

  • Firstly, there is greater clarity and focus among employees regarding the organisation's goals and priorities.
  • This alignment ensures that everyone is working towards the same objectives, leading to increased productivity and efficiency.
  • Additionally, a strong alignment between culture and strategy fosters a sense of shared purpose and commitment among employees.
  • They feel more connected to the organisation's mission and values, leading to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction.
  • Moreover, aligning culture with strategy enhances decision-making processes within the organisation.
  • Employees are empowered to make decisions that are in line with the organisation's values and strategic objectives, leading to more effective and informed choices.

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