5 Key Corporate Culture Elements that Support Growth

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What does it take to build a high performance corporate culture that can keep your organization thriving and performing at its peak?

First it takes a clear picture of the critical elements of a winning performance environment and then the resolve to never lose sight of what matters. In short, you need to keep your eye on the prize.

Did you know that, according to a recent Harvard Business School research report, an effective culture can account for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same business? And then in our own organizational alignment research, we found that cultural factors account for up to 40% of the difference between high and low growth companies. You shouldn’t need much more than those figures to be convinced that corporate culture matters.

Here from our studies are the 5 key elements of an organizational culture that can support growth and success:

  1. A Clear, Believable and Implementable Strategic Purpose
    A healthy corporate culture is based upon a clear, compelling vision and the strategic plan to achieve the vision. Why does your company exist? What is it you contribute that really matters? A clear vision combined with a meaningful mission, compelling value proposition and the few key strategic actions for the next year should align all the business decisions and investments throughout the organization. Ideally your overall corporate strategy should fit on one page.
  2. Authentic Corporate Values that Represent the Core Beliefs You Collectively Stand For
    Values are the heart of a company’s culture and play a foundational role in creating and sustaining a high performance environment. Done right, corporate values guide the mindsets and behaviors to execute your business and talent strategies in a way that works for everyone. Though most companies have a list of so-called values, few are really good at practicing them. And this is where the rubber meets the road. If for instance a company values “open communication,” there should never be negative consequences for honest and constructive feedback. And this value should be supported and reinforced in all corporate policies.
  3. Differentiated Talent Selection, Development and Promotion Processes
    Company culture should be reflected in how you attract, develop, engage and retain talent. By selecting, growing and rewarding employees who model and uphold your organization’s values, you will strengthen the culture and attract those who believe what is most important. You will know you are on the right track when your highest performing employees are a strong cultural fit.
  4. Powerful Stories that Align with Your Desired Culture
    When you can tell a powerful story that clearly illustrates your corporate culture, you have a compelling tool to sustain the culture and differentiate your company from others in the marketplace. For example, if many corporate stories are about “how hard people work,” and you want a culture that supports a “work-life balance,” then you need to create new stories. The bigger the desired culture change, the more dramatic and compelling your new stories need to be to overcome the “old stories.” Similarly, if you want to create a process efficient company culture focused on cost savings like Walmart, you should work to eliminate the heroic stories that make employees at Nordstrom’s so proud.
  5. Physical Environment and Location
    While more is being accomplished through virtual and global teams, it would be very challenging to support and foster an open environment if offices were separated with closed doors. And it would be difficult to encourage innovation unless you had a ready stream of creative thinkers who cluster around academic hub and technology centers. To this extent, geography and building design can affect and even shape your corporate culture.

The culture of an organization is comprised of many factors. But with these 5 common factors of strong cultures, you are well on your way to building a strong, vibrant culture that will create high performance.

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