We all know that changes are taking place across the HR world. Many of these are happening rapidly and simultaneously, and keeping pace is one of the biggest challenges facing HR practitioners and client organisations alike.

But keep pace we must if we’re to do the best by our teams, create great workplaces and drive more considerate, strategic leadership.

Our attendance at this week’s Leadership Board HR Partner ID event was a great showcase for organisations who are addressing and embracing change of all kinds. The HR leaders brought together by the forum were consistent in their identification of the major challenges their organisations face, regardless of sector or size.

It was noticeable that several key areas that we address with our clients every day were top of mind for many HR decision-makers. Perhaps the most topical was the challenge of cultural integration.

The acceleration in the number and size of M&A deals is placing new pressure on HR to bring workforces from very different types of firm together and get them to operate effectively under one new culture.

While there was clear agreement from attendees that the creation and consolidation of culture had to be led from the top and role-modelled by leaders, the challenge for HR was made equally clear: how can HR help the senior team identify the desired culture and values by which the merged workforces should live?

There was a definite sense during this discussion that any new culture needs to be measured in order to be managed and driven forward. Leadership alignment – from all merged parties – is vital from the outset. Clearly stated values and behaviours are essential and must be communicated from and demonstrated by the newly-created leadership team. And baseline cultural metrics need to be established as soon as firms come together if HR is to help leaders identify ‘soft spots’ and act to put them right.

Achieving cultural change or introducing new cultural values can’t happen overnight, but the discussions we had with the forum attendees underlined the importance that HR teams place on culture in relation to their overall strategic agenda.

And while we know that corporate culture is one of the most emotive and complex issues we face in the HR world today, it was clearer than ever to us this week that for those committed to HR excellence, it’s also one of the most critical contributors to long-term business success.


By Dr Andy Brown
CEO & ENGAGE Leadership Practice Head