Inorganic growth, industry diversification and internationalisation are processes that the bulk of Spanish companies have experienced in the last decade, particularly in the construction, services and infrastructure sectors, and their implications as regards organisation and people management are not inconsiderable.
The increase in diversity as a result of such transformation processes evidently enriches any company, but it can also pose a challenge with regard to preserving the organisation’s culture. The question that arises, then, is how to maintain a corporate identity that can keep its cultural roots regardless of organisational, geographic and sectoral differences.
Below we propose four lines of action that may mitigate the risk of this type of identity loss:
- Firstly, the organisation’s culture should be managed proactively. In order for the culture to subsist, it is essential to be aware of its identity, common purpose and shared values (above and beyond the logical variations). Joint identification of these fundamental elements by the various players in the organisation provides an assurance of adoption by all concerned. Of course, mere identification is not enough if it is not communicated to the organisation and, more importantly, incorporated into the everyday cultural features of the organisation through its HR processes, as discussed below.
- A second key task for preserving the corporate identity is managing the executive levels. An organisation’s higher echelons play a key role in disseminating its culture; consequently, it is critical that they be aligned with the goal of maintaining the corporate identity. This alignment goes far beyond mere communication. It is necessary to have common HR processes (recruitment, evaluation, training, etc.) for all executives and these processes should be in line with the corporate culture that is to be maintained and enhanced. A good example of this is that executive competencies should be aligned with the corporate values.
- In addition to executive levels, it is important also to have transverse processes that allow for transverse talent management in the organisation and which enhance professionals’ mobility between the various units that make up the company. Exchange programs, international secondments and planned rotations of high potential professionals are actions that serve to break up organisational silos and create a shared vision of the organisation’s mission and values.
- A final lever for organisational integration is employee satisfaction. Standardised processes for gauging professionals’ satisfaction and commitment guarantee the maintenance of the corporate identity by focusing the organisation on common issues and providing a mechanism for tracking the degree to which the organisation’s professionals identify with the common project.
Although the possibility of a breach of an organisation’s cultural identity is a key challenge that companies face at times of transformation (something that many multinationals experience), the initiatives sketched out above may not only mitigate the risk but also turn the organisational transformation into a source of competitive advantages by maintaining the company’s cultural identity within the organisation’s diversity.