Best-Selling Author Mary Abbajay: Successful Partners Focus on Culture First

Confused on culture? Don't miss this talk by best-selling author Mary Abbajay at Channel Partners Evolution.

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

August 22, 2019

4 Min Read
Road to Success

Research and organizational scholarship consistently point to organizational culture as a major factor in the success or failure of businesses and organizations; yet, all too often organizational culture is left to chance — or worse, shrugged off as an impossible hurdle to overcome. High-performing organizations don’t leave their culture to chance. High-performing organizations take a thoughtful, proactive, enterprise-wide approach to ensuring the cultivation and maintenance of a culture that can support long-term organizational success.

But fear not — thought leader Mary Abbajay will lead a partner education session at Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 9-12, in Washington, D.C.,  to share practical real-world strategies for creating a high-performance culture. In “The Culture Imperative: The Bedrock of High-Performing Organizations,” part of the business strategy conference track sponsored by Nextiva, Abbajay will talk about how she helps clients develop the strategies, skills and sensibilities needed for success in the 21st century.


Mary Abbajay

We sat down with her to get a sneak peek of what she’ll discuss at the event.

Channel Futures: What are the practical benefits to a well-thought out and defined corporate culture?

Mary Abbajay: The old management adage, “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” is still as true as it ever was. Studies have shown that organizations whose cultures are in alignment with their business and financial goals achieve far more sustainable success. This is because a strong, effective culture helps to promote, reinforce and sustain high levels of organizational performance. Culture impacts everything in organizational life — from performance to motivation to values to employee engagement and retention. It is the ultimate competitive advantage. Given enough time and money, your competitors can duplicate almost everything you’ve got working for you except for your culture. In the great war for top talent, savvy businesses know that you can either try to outspend your competitors or you can out-culture them.

Hear from Mary Abbajay and dozens of other top industry speakers at Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 9-12, in Washington, D.C. Register now!

CF: How do business owners go about creating and promoting that culture? Where do they start?

MA: Organizations must start by clearly defining what kind of culture they need to be successful. Each organization must determine for itself what kind of culture will help it survive and thrive. Culture must be a unique value proposition for each organization given its place in the world. For example, if an organization needs constant innovation, then the culture must be one that supports innovation, which means that it must encourage and support risk-taking and failure. Once an organization defines its ideal culture, then they must teach it, live it, measure it and reward it. This means that leadership must communicate, model and believe in their espoused culture. Leaders must hold themselves and others accountable for adhering to and honoring cultural norms and values.

CF: How important of a factor is culture in the hiring process compared with skill sets, salary expectations and so on?

MA: Hiring for cultural fit is paramount for sustaining …

… a cultural competitive advantage. High-performance organizations are rigorous about hiring first for culture and second for skill. Hiring highly skilled employees who are a poor cultural fit is a bad bet and usually ends up with one of three outcomes: 1) They never fully achieve of high levels of performance due to their inability to feel engaged and motivated by the culture; 2) increased turnover as employees who are unhappy with the culture are more likely to leave; or 3) the highly talented “brilliant jerk” disrupts your culture and creates dysfunction and demoralization among the ranks.

CF: How can business owners ensure their employees and new hires are a good cultural fit?

MA: Culture is only as effective as the organizational and human capital processes that surround it. For new hires, this means that recruitment and interviewing must incorporate culture. Hiring managers must be taught how to assess candidates for cultural fit. Once hired, organizations should consider the “90-day” rule — which means that new hires should be reassessed for culture fit after 90 days. Those who aren’t a good fit should be encouraged to move on. Keeping people who aren’t a good fit is bad for them, bad for the team and bad for the organization. Additionally, to ensure that all employees (and leaders!) adhere to cultural norms and values, performance management systems must reflect desired culture. Employees must be evaluated and managed on both performance and cultural behavior!

About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like