Culture eats strategy for breakfast

January 29, 2020

What does the phrase mean? One way of interpreting it is that no matter what plans you formulate, the success or failure of the organization depends on the behaviors of its people. Simply put, culture is the way an organization’s people behave. In general terms culture is the set of beliefs, values, and behaviors that together create an organization’s unique environment.

The Reimer, McGuinness & Associates culture can be summed up in our core values, the RMA3:

  • Relationships
  • Drive
  • Fun

How does RMA define these?  Let’s work backward:

Fun. That would seem to be an easy one. At RMA, we enjoy coming to work each day, interacting with our team, and with our clients. We derive pleasure from what we do. Fun is a natural result of performing meaningful work for people we care about. Happy hours, parties, and social outings are a part of this, but this concept of fun is broader than events and recreation. It is the outcome of combining great people with expertise.

Drive. This one is a little more nebulous. What is drive? We refer to Drive as the consistent desire to improve. We want our people and our clients to be better tomorrow than they are today. One component of drive is selfless service. We want to put a priority on meeting the legitimate needs of the stakeholders in our Firm, regardless of our mood or feelings at the time. This includes both clients and our team members. Think of it as motivation meets caring.

That leaves Relationships. This one is listed first because it’s most important. Our business is based on relationships. Relationships with clients, as well as with fellow team members. That connection and caring about other people is what makes everything possible. Such connections take time to develop and grow. This process is similar to tending a garden. Success doesn’t happen overnight but is an ongoing habit of creating conditions where the plants in the garden can thrive. When relationships are based on trust and mutual respect, it creates optimal conditions for success.

With 2019 in the rearview mirror, and starting fresh in this new year, I invite you to take a moment to consider some simple steps you can take in the coming year to strengthen relationships. Here are a few I plan to make a habit:

  • Expressing gratitude
  • Giving recognition
  • Self-reflection, and working to overcome barriers to honest communication
  • Receiving criticism without becoming defensive
  • Increased willingness to consider contrary thoughts and opinions

By consciously working to improve these areas it is possible to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with teammates, clients, and business partners, and foster a culture of excellence. These are actions that deepen trust, and create an environment where people are free to disagree and challenge existing ideas, secure in the knowledge that their best interests are at heart.

What is one thing you can do to nourish and grow your relationships in the coming year?

About the author:
Max Dunlap is the firm’s partner in charge of Attest and Advisory services. His responsibilities include
building and maintaining the firm’s culture.


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