Corporate culture is alive and well! No longer a “nice to have”, executives around the globe know that a defined, purposeful culture is an imperative for business success. In fact, in 2015 executives acknowledged the critical relationship between culture and employee engagement as the number 1 global talent issue, with the vast majority of those executives (87%) making this issue a top priority to be addressed.
So how does a purposeful culture drive business performance? The Harvard Business School answers that question with impactful data from a study it conducted. The study demonstrates that the unseen force of culture has the power to transform performance; that is, when culture and business strategy are aligned, companies can see as much as a 50% improvement in performance. Further studies show that this remarkable differential is achieved because an aligned culture drives-up levels of innovation by 30% and levels of employee retention by as much as 40% – both factors in driving performance.
How do you create a targeted, business-oriented and sustainable organizational culture that ultimately powers strong financial results? Consider these 4 steps:
- Align Behaviors with Strategy: Numerous studies show we tend to conform to the behavior of the people around us. Since culture is how the norms of organizational behavior are expected to be executed in day-to-day operations, strive to embed behaviors that will accomplish your strategic objectives:
- Behaviors that are widely recognized and easily emulated
- Behaviors of the desired culture already modeled by ‘exemplary’ employees
- Leverage the Existing Culture: Demonstrate those values of the original cultural that are still relevant by sharing stories that illustrate why people believe in them and how they can still serve your company well. Acknowledging the existing culture’s strengths and assets will make a cultural shift feel like a shared evolution.
- Find a Way to Emotionally Connect Employees to the Desired Culture: If unlocking the power of culture into a competitive advantage is dependent on shifting employee behaviors, then creating an emotional connection between the enterprise and its employees is the key. Both organizational changes (e.g. re-structure) and personnel changes (e.g. empowerment) that result from cultural change should motivate people on how the work itself is to be accomplished and, on an emotional level, should invoke a sense of belonging, willingness to work for the betterment of the organization, loyalty and pride.
- Measure and Monitor the Evolution of Your Culture Change: To unleash the power of an aligned cultural shift, management’s active participation in both living the new behaviors, every day and in all circumstances, and monitoring cultural progress at each stage of your effort is essential. Measurement allows you to identify backsliding, correct course where needed and demonstrate tangible evidence of improvement — which can help to maintain positive momentum over the long haul. Four critical areas to watch are:
- Business performance: Are key performance indicators improving?
- Critical behaviors: Have enough people at multiple levels started to exhibit the few behaviors that matter most?
- Milestones: Have specific intervention milestones been reached?
- Underlying beliefs, feelings and mind-sets: Are key cultural attitudes moving in the right direction?
The vast majority of organizations still do not recognize culture as a business imperative and are, thereby, handing their competitors a significant competitive advantage. Don’t be one of them!
Prism Partners International can help you develop and deploy a culture of high-performance, aligning it to your strategy and business objectives to empower and engage your organization at every level. Through our practical, operational experience and innovative organizational alignment model and training material, we can focus and align management and employee behavior and actions to achieve improved profitability.
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