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Culture: Your secret weapon for nailing next year's goals

The start of a new financial year often sees us set ambitious goals as we look to drive growth and see how we can steer our organisations to even greater success. However, amidst the rush to meet these financial targets, or to expand market share we often overlook the role culture plays in our strategic objectives for the new year. As Peter Drucker famously said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast", and we often forget that strategic execution is a people problem, not a strategy problem. Companies that prioritise culture enjoy a 33% increase in revenue, so there is a fundamental role in how culture shapes the overall performance of your organisation.


The synergy between culture and goals

For this to be effective, your culture should be the bedrock upon which all strategies are built. It influences how employees interact, how decisions are made, and ultimately, how goals are achieved. Incorporating culture into goal-setting ensures that your objectives are not only aligned with your financial aspirations but also resonate with the values and behaviours that define your organisation.

Let’s take my AFL team, the Sydney Swans, a team known for its "Bloods Culture," which emphasises hard work, resilience, and unity. This culture has been pivotal in their consistent performance and premiership success. Similarly, in business, a strong, cohesive culture can drive employees to go above and beyond in pursuit of the company's goals.

Incorporating culture into your goal-setting process can take several forms:

1.   Align company goals with core values:

Ensure that the goals set for the new financial year reflect your company's core values. For example, if innovation is a value, set goals that encourage creative problem-solving and reward innovative ideas.


2.   Champion a collaborative environment:

Goals that promote teamwork and collaboration can strengthen your culture. This could involve setting cross-practice targets or initiatives that require collective effort.


3.   Promote employee wellbeing:

Goals that prioritise employee wellbeing are proven to enhance job satisfaction and productivity. This might include initiatives to improve work-life balance, mental health support, or professional development opportunities.


Real-world examples

Consider Atlassian, the Australian software company renowned for its innovative culture. Atlassian’s objectives, known as OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), are not just ambitious but also deeply embedded in its culture of creativity and risk-taking. By setting goals that encourage experimentation and learning from failure, Atlassian ensures that its employees are motivated to push boundaries and achieve remarkable results.

Similarly, Cotton On Group, the well-known retailer, emphasises a culture of giving and community support. By setting goals around community engagement and employee participation in philanthropic activities, Cotton On has built a loyal customer base and a dedicated workforce, proving that culture-driven goals can lead to business success.

In sports too, the success of a team often hinges on its culture. The All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team, are a prime example. Their culture of humility, unity, and continuous improvement, encapsulated in their saying "Better People Make Better All Blacks," drives their on-field success. By focusing on cultural values, they ensure that every player is aligned with the team's goals and ethos, leading to outstanding performance.

In business, adopting a similar approach can be transformative. Just as a sports team thrives on a shared vision and commitment to excellence, so too can a company. When employees understand and embrace the cultural values that underpin their goals, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and driven to achieve those goals.


Implementing culture-driven goals

To effectively incorporate culture into your goal-setting process, consider the following steps:

1.  Engage your team:

Involve employees at all levels in the goal-setting process. This not only ensures buy-in but also encourages a sense of ownership and accountability.


2.  Communicate clearly:

Articulate how the goals align with your cultural values. Use internal communications to reinforce the connection between culture and objectives.


3.  Measure and reward:

Establish metrics to track progress toward cultural goals and recognise achievements. Celebrating milestones reinforces the importance of culture and motivates continued effort.


4.  Lead by example:

As a leader, embody the cultural values you want to promote. Your actions will set the tone for the rest of the organisation.


In summary:

Incorporating culture into your goal-setting process is not just a strategic advantage; it is a necessity for sustainable success. By aligning your objectives with your company’s core values and developing a culture that supports those goals, you can create a motivated, cohesive, and high-performing organisation. As you embark on your goals for the new financial year, remember the wisdom of Peter Drucker and the examples set by leading companies and sports teams: culture truly is the cornerstone of success.


Author of ‘Meaningful Work: Unlock Your Unique Path to Career Fulfilment’, Nina Mapson Bone is a people strategist, consultant, chair and keynote speaker. She consults with boards, CEOs, founders and executives on bridging the disconnect between strategy and the needs, motivations and capabilities of their people. Nina’s executive career has spanned three continents and diverse sectors. She was previously the Managing Director of Beaumont People, where she led a period of significant growth for the organisation, during which it was recognised with multiple awards. For more information visit


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