Why I don’t own our ‘Culture’…

Some thoughts I would share primarily with HR friends & acquaintances, but also for general leadership and workplace knowledge…

I have noticed a popular trend in the HR world. There are a lot of companies who have labeled their HR leaders and HR department as “people and culture” or just “culture”.  It has caused me to reflect on this practice and the role of HR professionals (regardless of what they are called).

On one hand, HUGE props to these companies who understand the importance of culture in the workplace.  To impact engagement, and ultimately overall business results, culture is a MUST.  It is an absolutely vital ingredient to success.  So that’s good.


As an HR professional and leader, I don’t want the word “culture” to ever be in my title.

Wait.  WHAT?

Why not?

Because, very simply…


We are all responsible for building it, guarding it, preserving it, and enhancing it through our actions and behaviors.  This is something that no one person – nor any single department – “owns”.  Everyone shares the responsibility equally, starting at the highest levels of every company.

Now let me be clear.  Because the focus of HR is people, I definitely feel our purpose in the company is to teach, drive, and motivate the behaviors that will build the culture (this starts with my own personal actions, to work and lead in a way that will enforce the culture established by the company).

I would be concerned that having the word “culture” in my job title or description may give others in the organization that they don’t need to act as owners and builders of culture.  It is extremely important for every person in the company to know they own and impact the culture (and ultimately the success) of the company.

Remember: #everyoneownsculture.

HR Professionals – please comment below!  I would love to hear your thoughts!

If you agree with this concept, how does it really play out in practice?

A simple definition for “Stratetgic HR” (!?!)

Over the course of my career in HR, the buzzword ‘strategic’ has always been present.  Admonition like “be more strategic” or “we’re not strategic enough” becomes common as we HR professionals find our way into valuable business contribution and the proverbial ‘seat at the table’…

However, no one could ever really define what it means to be ‘strategic’ in HR.  Can’t describe how many seminars, conferences, and other meetings I was in where that simple charge was shared:  “Be more strategic”… yet, I couldn’t really find anyone who could give a really good explanation of what that looked like.

So, in an attempt to share what I’ve learned, and give others something to build on for themselves, I share my ‘work-in-progress’ definition of Strategic HR:

Strategic HR is the alignment of culture, talent and leadership with the company’s overall strategy.

Seems simple enough, right?  Three key ingredients that HR professionals can own and/or influence, that will prove your ‘strategic’ worth.  Talent.  Culture.  Leadership.  Align them with each other, always focus on the company’s strategy, and you’ll be on your way!


First and foremost, company strategy.

Do you understand what your company actually does, and how it gets done?  Do you understand the processes and people that make it all happen?  Do you know your company’s competitors?  How about competitive advantages over those competitors?

Do you know your company’s goals (both annual and quarterly)?  Do you know your company’s mission or vision?  (not just the words on a page, but what it actually means)

Do you understand the direction of your company?  Plans to grow?  Plans to reduce spending?  Plans to acquire or be acquired?

These pieces are a bedrock of knowledge that will give HR professionals the credibility necessary to connect with business leaders, and contribute in strategic ways.  #relationshipsmatter  #credibilitybuildsrelationships

Now, the three pillars that should align to it (understanding, of course, that this is merely scratching the surface of each one): Continue reading