Create the Right Corporate Culture to Drive High Performance

A graphic of a man running up an arrow that is labeled, "Heading in the Right Direction"

Thanks to the success of Netflix and the failure of Volkswagen, more and more companies are beginning to understand how important the right corporate culture can be to creating a high performance work environment.

We define corporate culture as how things are truly accomplished in an organization…the behavioral norms and corporate values that are lived and observed each and every day to get work done. Culture is one of the three critical legs of corporate success. When a company’s culture is aligned with their talent and their business strategy, the organization is heading in the right direction to succeed in the future.

Our organizational alignment research shows that the alignment of culture and talent with strategy helps companies grow 58% faster and be 72% more profitable while increasing employee engagement 18-to-1.

One quick way to measure the strength of your corporate culture is to ask seven questions:

1. How clear is the company’s vision and mission to employees?
2. How committed are your employees to achieving them?
3. How engaged are your employees in the day-to-day work of the company?
4. How clear and consistent are the key business practices and behaviors?
5. Is your corporate culture aligned to achieve your business strategy?
6. Is your talent strategy aligned with your corporate culture?
7. How flexible is the company at adapting to change?

If your answer to any of these questions raises concerns, you had better address them.

Here are some ways that our high performance clients have worked to strengthen their corporate culture and, ultimately, their business performance:

• They set about involving their employees in the business planning and direction of the company. We believe that the more actively involved employees are in defining the company mission, creating the strategy going forward and in making the decisions that directly affect them, the more they buy into the company’s future. And as they feel more ownership, they are more fully engaged in their day-to-day work. Empowering employees encourages them to stay and to contribute beyond what is simply required to get the job done.

You will know you are headed in the right direction when employees clearly understand the company’s plans for future success, believe the organization will be successful in the future, understand how their job helps the organization achieve success, and know how they fit into the organization’s future plans.

• They consistently and visibly invested in people.
By taking stock of their current talent and knowing what they will need in the future, these companies helped employees build an individual development plan and provided learning opportunities for a career path that made sense for both the individual worker and the organization’s future. The investment in employee capabilities helped retain top talent, gave these firms a competitive edge and highlighted the stated value of continuous learning and development.

You will know you are on the right path when employees believe they have been properly trained to do their job, effectively cross-trained to do other jobs and have consistent opportunities to learn new skills that will help them and their team succeed.

• They built strong and high performing teams.
Believing that strong teams are the backbone of successful organizations, these companies made sure their managers understood and practiced what it takes to create collaboration and respect among team members. They taught managers how to be effective coaches, how to hold team members accountable, and how to encourage desired team behaviors. In short, managers became the instruments of raising performance levels across the board. Learning was accomplished on-the-job…the kind of action learning that really sticks.

You will know you are on the right path when people consistently go the extra mile to achieve great results, goals and accountabilities are clear to everyone on the team, individual strengths are leveraged often, and people are committed to producing top quality work.

• They consistently recognized employee contributions and held people accountable.
Our client companies know that high performers should get a disproportionate amount of the rewards and that underperformers need to improve quickly or move on. They define rewards and recognition linked directly to success metrics. This motivates people to stay and perform. They also define the consequences associated with sub-standard performance. This motivates people to avoid failure.

You know you are on the right path when people believe that your organization makes investments to make them more successful, the leaders value people as their most important resource and the organization is committed to making it a great place to work.

Be deliberate about creating a corporate culture that is unique to your situation and aligns with your talent strategy and business strategy. You will reap the rewards well into the future.

Learn more about creating a high performance corporate culture.

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