How Not to Fail at Corporate Culture Like Uber, Wells Fargo and VW

How Not to Fail at Corporate Culture A cartoon man faces two directional signs: one toward success and the other toward failure

How Not to Fail at Corporate Culture
Leader after leader asks us how not to fail at corporate culture like Uber, or Wells Fargo or VW.  The questions usually stem from concerns regarding leadership changes, strategy shifts, mergers or acquisitions, unexpected downturns, high growth plans or talent issues.  Regardless of the reason, workplace culture matters.

The Definition of Corporate Culture
We define corporate culture as how things truly get done on a day-to-day basis.  Culture represents the way employees think, behave and work. While often invisible, culture becomes very visible when employees act against it.

Why Corporate Culture Matters

  • A recent Harvard research report found culture can account for up to half of the performance difference between companies in the same industry.
  • Watson Wyatt found culturally aligned organizations return as much as 286% more value to stakeholders.
  • Our organizational alignment research found that corporate culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of revenue, profitability, customer loyalty and employee engagement.

Most Leaders Believe Corporate Culture Matters
So, if you are one of the 8 out of 10 corporate leaders we surveyed who believe that a high performing culture is a prerequisite for success, you are in good company. However, a recent Forbes survey shows that fewer than 1 in 10 leaders actually succeed in creating the high performing work culture they dream of.

How Not to Fail at Corporate Culture in 4 Steps
What’s getting in the way? Here are 4 explanations for why leaders struggle at culture change and how not to fail at corporate culture:

1.  Failure to Walk the Talk
Employee feedback is crystal clear in this area.  Leaders may be good at talking about the company mission, setting out the values, and describing the behaviors that matter, but if they don’t translate their words into consistent and visible actions, their speeches will fall on deaf ears.

Leaders who don’t act in a way that aligns with the cultural expectations they set for employees will lose trust. The gulf between what leaders say and what leaders do matters.   Smart leaders explicitly close the gap between the current culture and the aspired culture with their behaviors and actions.

2.  Equating Company Perks to Corporate Culture
Sure, everybody appreciates the extras that many innovative companies provide, like free meals in a top-notch cafeteria, a company car, an on-site gym, and dry cleaning; but company perks only temporarily mask a weak culture. The perks may help to initially attract employees, but perks alone don’t have the holding power to retain top employees.  The true corporate culture is represented by the way people actually think, behave and work.

Over the last ten years, corporate perks and benefits have shown to have the lowest relative correlation to employee engagement in terms of discretionary effort, advocacy and intent to stay.  So while a certain level of benefits is certainly expected to play the talent game, employee perks are not a potent leverage point to increase employee performance or engagement.

3.  Ignoring the Business Strategy
While this may seem strange, far too many HR leaders embark on cultural change efforts at a tactical level by only addressing values.  When you are looking at culture change, you need to understand the three levels of culture and be clear about what success looks like for each.  The three levels of culture are:

  • Organizational Health: Think of organizational health as the corporate values and behaviors that are consistently lived across an organization. In general, organizations strive to be healthy, and people want to work in a healthy environment.  An organization must be healthy enough to succeed; but health alone will not set you apart from your peers in terms of business results or talent management.
  • High Performance: The next ingredient in culture is your performance environment. We believe that people change when their environment changes. We also believe it is a leader’s job to create the circumstances to consistently get the most out of their people in a way that is consistent with the organization’s core values, behaviors and strategies.
  • Strategically Aligned:  The third, and often the least effectively used, ingredient required for high performance is the alignment of your culture with your strategy. Because strategy must go through culture to be implemented, the goal is to design a purposeful culture that is 100% aligned with moving your business forward.

Smart leaders know how not to fail at corporate culture.  They assess and align all three cultural levels and pay keen attention to ensuring that their workplace culture is a driving force that moves the strategy forward while rooting out cultural factors that inhibit strategic success.

4.  Thinking of Culture Change as an Event Rather than a Process
Many of those 9 out of 10 leaders who miss the mark in changing the way their employee work are too impatient. They expect short-term success and give up too easily. Re-shaping an organizational culture requires time, perseverance, learning and adjustments.

The Bottom Line
How not to fail at corporate culture?

  • First, make sure that you have a clear, believable and implementable business strategy. Without a strategic true north that stakeholders are committed to, culture initiatives are doomed to fail.
  • Second, ensure your organizational health is strong enough to withstand culture change.
  • Third, explicitly define the culture required to execute your strategy and the associated gaps with your current culture.
  • And lastly, create, follow and monitor a targeted action plan to close the gaps between the current and desired culture in a way makes sense.

To learn more about how not to fail at corporate culture, download How to Build a Purposeful and Aligned Corporate Culture.

Share:
Facebook Twitter Google+ Email LinkedIn

Comments are closed.

LSA helped to meet the needs of my teams within a very narrow timeframe. My team walked away with highly useful management tools and practices. LSA saved us time in delivering the right solution for our specific needs.

Sandeep Kumar
Director, Software Engineering, EPG

Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.

Farhat Ali
President and Chief Executive Office

Fujitsu

LSA’s approach and ability to bring the best resources to eBay has been a great asset. They really focus on helping us succeed in any way they can and are very flexible in meeting our management and talent needs.

Mike Normant
Learning & Development

ebay

LSA custom designed a Management Development program that is absolutely “on target” for our technical managers. Their facilitator has done a superb job delivering the material in a way that is fast paced, highly interactive, and fun. She presents practical solutions to the people situations that our managers face every day. I regard LSA as an excellent partner that understands our business needs and a virtual member of our HR department.

Judith Onton
Vice President Human Resources

In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.

 

Kevin Ashman
Firmware Engineering Supervisor

We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

On behalf of Roche and my staff I would like to sincerely thank you for your help with this. The English as a Second Language (ESL) assessment and coaching that you provided for our team was a great success.

Cam Greig
Associate Director

Roche

The Next Generation Management Development courses have helped me communicate more effectively with my peers and teammates. By utilizing effective communication techniques such as clarifying and confirming, and asking open ended questions, I have been able to clarify and understand information in situations where I would have otherwise asked limited questions and made false assumptions.

Robert Breckner
Firmware Engineering Manager

Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

For our go to training outsourcing partner, LSA provides exactly what we want. As always, they deliver outstanding work!

Elizabeth Siebert
Director, Organizational Excellence & Development

Intuit

I’ve been associated with LSA for the last 8 years and have found them to be an extremely professional, well managed full service training organization. Since working with LSA, I’ve participated in a number of solutions ranging from Performance Management to Assertiveness Training – I’ve found that the quality of the resources is superior. They are well prepared and have definitely done a considerable amount of pre-work in order to customize our culture and business into the total learning experience – making it most beneficial for our employees.

Duane Schroeder
Human Resource Manager

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people in the areas of performance coaching, diversity, and inclusion. They focused on helping us succeed and were very flexible in meeting our specific needs. LSA Global exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and value standpoint. I would recommend LSA Global to anyone looking for a true business partner.

Anita Luckinbill
Director, Human Resources

Our company engaged LSA to do a specialized “train the trainer” program, and the consultant’s performance outdid our exceptionally high standards for such a program. Very crucial to the success of this program was the work done upfront to discuss our needs and to interview key members of our organization so that the program specifically met our goals. Our facilitators continue to comment on the success of the program. Thanks also for the follow-up.

Frank Abbott
Chief Financial Officer

We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

Jennifer Remling
Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

LSA helped change our entire culture around meetings, making them more effective and efficient, thus enabling us to concentrate on driving more business.

Terry Wassman
VP of Human Resources

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More