The recent events at Wells Fargo have put a spotlight on a critical component of performance: culture drives behavior. CPG consultants have seen this time and again at client companies where cultures rooted in “the customer comes first” philosophy create environments where customers become advocates for the bank and the best and brightest customers want to be on the team. Wells Fargo’s recent fiasco provides a contrasting example where making money came first for a large portion of the customer-facing workforce. This is not just a disaster for Wells Fargo. It tarnishes the image of the entire industry.
The only way to ensure that culture is driving the right kinds of behaviors is through controls. It’s a pretty simple idea, but one that gets lost when a management team fails to realize that culture must be reinforced every day through control mechanisms, including measurement and reporting, communications, customer feedback, and incentive systems. If “culture eats strategy for breakfast” (as Peter Drucker is quoted as saying but never actually said), remember that weak controls will nibble away at culture all day, every day.