A Healthy Corporate Culture Boosts Performance

The arrow of a compass is pointing towatd the word "Health"

Businesses collapse and die every day…and at a rather alarming rate. Some data suggests that 1-out-of-every-3 public companies will be delisted in the next five years. Corporations seem to frequently fail regardless of their size, industry or length of time in business. The question we want to answer is why they fail and what we can do about it.

Let’s start with a few contextual givens that we hear from each and every client each and every day:

  1. Change is a given.
  2. Complexity is increasing.
  3. Everything is moving faster.
  4. It is getting harder to find and keep great people.
  5. Customer, employee, investor and partner expectations are growing exponentially.

Based upon these presuppositions, companies that do not build some flexibility into their strategy, culture and talent are the most vulnerable to failure. Sounds reasonable…but how do you go about protecting your company from the stresses of change and increasing complexity? We believe that building a healthy and high performing organizational culture can help your business survive and thrive. A Harvard research report found that an effective corporate culture can account for up to half of the performance difference between companies. Our own organizational alignment research found that cultural factors account for up to 40% of the difference between high and low growth companies.

Businesses, by working toward an adaptive culture, are much more likely to succeed for the long-term.

Here are some ways you can improve the health of your corporate culture:

  • Diversity
    Build diversity into your organization. Hire and support a diverse employee population and encourage a variety of ideas when you address problems or devise winning strategies. You are far less likely to be rendered obsolete if you have employees watching out for you on multiple fronts. Be sure you allow for the richness of perspectives by hiring people of different backgrounds and different working styles. Celebrate a culture that is willing to experiment with new ideas and accepts small failures as part of the learning and growing experience.
  • Duplication
    Although an overlapping of roles can be considered inefficient, the duplication of skills can be a business lifesaver. Just as on a team, when only one person holds the keys to a critical element of achieving team goals, the success of the team is at high risk when that person is gone. Similarly in an organization, some redundancy can be a strong buffer against unexpected change. When one system fails, another should be able to step in and fulfill the same function. What if a major supplier were suddenly unable to deliver critical building blocks of your product? You need to have another partner in the wings who can get you what you need to keep producing.
  • Monitoring
    Not all change can be predicted. But you should keep a close eye on emergent trends in your marketplace. Stay on top of new developments and adopt a philosophy of contingency. What would happen if that new product were to garner huge consumer appeal? What if this new technology takes off, how will that affect our business? Try to envision how others’ innovations will change the market and then take proactive measures to adapt to the change or protect against it. Strategic scenario planning can be a great leadership tool to prepare for the inevitable ups and downs.
  • Cooperation
    When you have a foundation of trust—in your leadership, with your employees, across key stakeholders, and with your customers—you have systems in place that can reduce your risk of failure because contribution is appreciated and valued. Make sure that you have enough trust to allow for healthy conflicts that lead to the accountability and commitment required to succeed.

Do you have a high performing culture to drive your strategy forward?

Read about the top 5 warning signs that your performance environment is in trouble

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