Author: Jörg Rüdiger Thews - Director, PwC UK
For the past 14 years, I’ve been helping insurers to reshape their cultures as part of their wider change programmes. At the beginning, it was very difficult to get boards interested in culture. It tended to be seen as an afterthought, especially in comparison to more seemingly tangible influences on the business such as acquisition or new systems.
Now, boards are coming to realise that you can’t transform a business without transforming its culture. The realisation that we’d come to a turning point came when I was in a routine audit committee meeting with the CEO and other senior board members from a leading international group. We moved swiftly through a standard agenda, but when we started to talk about the organisation’s culture, behaviours and ways of working, they suddenly became animated and we talked long beyond the scheduled end. To them, value comes from people and therefore the culture that shapes how their staff behave is the essence of success.
But what if the culture proves resistant to change? Boards know the client focus, readiness to innovate and other cultural attributes they want. But, most are only scratching the surface because their high level expectations tend to have very little influence on the way employees behave and make decisions – how things are actually done within the organisation.
As we explore in a new report, Unleashing the value from values, you can’t just tell employees what you want from them. To make a real difference, you have to identify their most telling habits and routines and seek to actively shape them. This includes making sure your vision and values are clear and tangible enough to be acted upon. Examples might include going beyond a vague statement about valuing the customer to a commitment to only selling products when it’s certain they understand what they’re buying and why. The report also looks at the importance of focusing changes in behaviour on the key interactions that win and keep business, such as when a customer submits a claim. You can’t change a culture overnight. But, by focusing on these ‘moments that matter’, you can make a real difference relatively quickly.
Getting these and other key aspects of a winning culture right is now a key competitive differentiator, allowing your business to keep pace with the accelerating shifts in technology, regulation and customer expectations. Allowing your culture to drift will leave you struggling to stay in the game.
Read the full report, Unleashing the value from values, to find out more.
Jörg is a Director in PwC’s Financial Services consulting practice where he specialises in people and organisational change, applying innovative and creative technical thinking to solve clients’ commercial, business and people issues.