Does “chief culture officer” sound like yet another superfluous title to you? Well, it isn’t—it defines your organization’s culture. And your organization’s culture is integral to your overall success.
More and more companies realize that culture isn’t solely about keeping employees happy. Instead, it’s making sure that all employees are on the same page regarding the company’s mission, vision, and values.
Although chief culture officers are relatively new in the C suite, they make a massive difference to the business. Find out how in this article.
What Does a Chief Culture Officer Do?
A chief culture officer—sometimes called the “head of culture”—is responsible for maintaining an organization’s culture. And that means ensuring all departments align with the organization’s mission, vision, and values.
Besides explicit behaviors, a chief culture officer manages the mindsets and beliefs of a workforce. It might not sound challenging or important, but it matters more than you may think.
The way your employees think and feel about your organization influences the way they work and interact with each other—which goes a long way toward a company’s goals.
Here are a few responsibilities you can find in a chief culture officer job description:
- Aligns departments with the organization’s mission, vision, and values
- Acts as a liaison between employees and other C-level executives
- Sets the tone for communication across the company
- Cultivates an emotional connection among executives and other employees—in other words, the organization as a whole
- Plans and carries out events and team-building initiatives for employees
- Establishes collaboration practices
- Ignites thought-leadership projects
- Communicates the company’s culture goals through internal communications, staff meetings, and one-on-ones
- Conducts interviews to follow up on cultural initiatives
- Evaluates the relationship between those initiatives and indicators such as the turnover rate
Be aware that a chief culture officer has different responsibilities—and goals—than an HR specialist. For instance, a chief culture officer is the one who executes employee retreats. They may also address the topic of sexual harassment within a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
On the other hand, an HR specialist arranges employee benefits such as paid vacation, medical insurance, or performance bonuses.
Let’s look at more skills and responsibilities of chief culture officers.
More Details on the Abilities and Duties of a Chief Culture Officer
Managing organizational culture is a relatively new concept. Not so long ago, most companies produced manufactured physical products and had rigid hierarchy structures.
But we live in the era of information, so many businesses are digital and service-oriented now. Plus, globally distributed workforces are much more common today than ever before.
The most competitive companies these days are transparent about how they handle staff and customers. That’s why the way your staff and customers perceive your company is so important.
All these factors pose a challenge to chief culture officers. Their job starts with assessing the organizational culture. They do it from the company’s operations, team and individual performance, and personalities.
Then, chief culture officers do what it takes to direct your company’s culture to where it should be. Here are the three fronts on which they work:
A chief culture officer defines and reviews how a company hires and onboards new hires. If you prefer, you can call these “hiring and onboarding policies and practices.”
Chief culture officers emphasize the importance of cultural fit for new hires. They make sure that HR staff posts an accurate description of the company’s culture in job ads.
From the way managers and directors conduct meetings to how they resolve conflicts, leadership says a lot about organizational culture. Therefore, assessing leadership practices is an essential activity of chief culture officers.
They might do it with one-on-one meetings. They might also hold leadership workshops if they identify some need for improvement.
Regardless of different styles, leadership practices must reflect the organization’s values. And it’s the duty of chief culture officers to guarantee that synergy..
Leaders must be mindful of how they communicate at all times. They must be respectful and considerate to staff. Remember: how employees feel about the company shows in how they work and interact with each other—how they are treated by leadership directly influences those feelings.
Determining how a company handles its customers is part of a chief culture officer’s mission. This translates to customer service policies. Step one is defining the company’s buyer personas in alignment with its mission and customer needs. Step two is ensuring that the company values the customer and understands the needs and values of their customer base.. Now that you know what a chief culture officer is, it’s time to understand what they can do for your business.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Chief Culture Officer?
By encouraging a positive team culture made of passionate professionals, chief culture officers increase sales and productivity. A committed, motivated, and happy workforce increases employee retention and attracts the best talent. But the benefits of having a chief culture officer don’t stop there!
Nowadays, employee loyalty is more important than productivity. The current labor force views satisfaction at work in terms of recognition, reward, and promotion. They also value a healthy work environment with emotionally intelligent coworkers.
It’s the responsibility of chief culture officers to build a fulfilled workforce. That has a huge impact on the work environment—from the tone of coffee break chats to how decision-making discussions flow at the organization.
Below, we’ll discuss the value of managing your organizational culture.
Do Chief Culture Officers Pay Off?
The average salary of a chief culture officer in the US is roughly $150,000 per year. And it’s worth every penny!
According to McKinsey, the culture of an organization is the organization’s foundation. Organizational culture directly impacts business strategy and product development.
McKinsey suggests that culture plays a vital role in high-performing organizations. Their research showed that top company cultures return 60% more to shareholders than median. When compared to bottom cultures, that number goes up to 200%.
A healthy culture translates into a strong will to outperform, which leverages innovation, which results in competitive advantage and growth.
There’s always the threat that someone replicates your products or business model—but they can’t exactly replicate your organizational culture. If your company’s culture is healthy and strong, your staff will always find a way to develop new ideas and stay ahead of the competition! Do you know why?
Because they’re high-performers, thus highly adaptable to changes. McKinsey concluded that almost 50% of transformations at companies fail due to unhealthy cultures.
Despite the incredible value of a chief culture officer, there are some alternatives.
Does Your Company Need a Chief Culture Officer?
Sometimes, it’s tough for new hires to grasp the company’s culture and all its nuances. Organizational culture is a complex thing. It’s hard to define and hard to teach; like a plant, if you don’t nourish it frequently, it will fade away over time. So, your company definitely needs to manage its culture!
However, do your employees already find your company a great place to work? If so, then your organizational culture may be in good shape. That typically means that someone—maybe more than one person—is unofficially acting as the head of culture.
But who are those people? How can you spot them? Well, they’re the ones you’ll notice:
- Polishing communication streams
- Feeding a shared vision of the organization’s success to staff
- Nurturing a sense of mission among the whole company
- Fostering teamwork at all costs
This whole set of actions might not be systematic, or you might feel that they’re somehow fuzzy. Now, if you had a chief culture officer, you’d guarantee that these actions weren’t interrupted. You’d also ensure their planning and orchestration.
If you’re growing your business or own a big company, a chief culture officer isn’t that much of a luxury. It’s an indicator of success right around the corner!
Although managing a company’s culture is an ongoing job, some periods are more critical than others.
When Should You Hire a Chief Culture Officer?
These are the occasions when companies usually hire chief culture officers:
- Rapid growth times, such as high-demand peaks
- Planning and kickoff of global projects (global expansion)
- After a merge or acquisition
However, whenever the company needs to perform better, a chief culture officer helps you strategize that transformation. They regularly look for discrepancies between the company’s goals and culture and figure out how to reduce that gap.
Whatever they can do to improve employee and customer satisfaction; they do it. Therefore, they conduct surveys and meetings to feel out employees’ and customers’ perceptions of the company’s culture.
Start Managing Your Organizational Culture Today, Daily
The chief culture officer is an educator. They clarify to employees and other executives why they all belong to an organization.
They also promote the connection between organizational pride, loyalty, and efficiency. But most importantly, the role is about reminding everyone at an organization what they’re all working toward.
Do you own a small company and don’t have the budget for a dedicated chief culture officer? No problem, there’s a workaround!
Your managers can share the responsibility of that role. They can set the tone for communication and facilitate it. But they have to make it a daily task instead of an occasional duty.
Don’t wait for the budget to be just right to hire a chief culture officer! Start today with your managers. Have a taste of what it is to be an organization that recognizes the value of satisfied and committed professionals.
Still not sure if you need a chief culture officer? Contact us and get the answer to your question.