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 Global’s consultant brought a fresh perspective to our behavioral based interviewing strategy for two key executive positions we needed to fill, and their consultant helped us develop questions that produced a much deeper understanding of candidates’ capabilities. I am confident that the two new executives joining our organization have the right skills to add significant value. Throughout the process LSA was also very responsive in dealing with short lead time requests.

Because of the unique nature of our business, Excel is a core application in our accounting organization. After three attempts to find an Excel consultant who is capable of helping our finance team integrate advanced applications into our work processes we found LSA and Alex. He was not only a “Real” Excel expert but was masterful in helping us identify where to use Excel applications in our processes to increase our group’s efficiency.

SPO Partners & Co
Kim Silva, CFO

I have worked with other training companies and found it to be more of a seller/buyer relationship than one of matching the right expertise to our business issues. That’s what LSA does – ask the hard questions, listen, and understand our business needs. We receive the benefit of their expertise from assistance with personal development plans to enhancing team performance, to looking at enterprise-wide challenges. It’s all about helping our business succeed as we grow. Right now, LSA is providing great ideas, a fresh approach, and valuable guidance as we develop our management team and accelerate our client relationship management results.

Kristin Westland-Kaune
Director, Team Development

The Managing Virtual Teams program was extremely valuable. Your consultant/ facilitator’s fundamental knowledge of Synopsys as a company provided an incredible base to build upon while tackling the complications of managing and working with globally distributed teams. My team walked away walked away with highly useful practices and tools. It was an excellent use of our time.

Debra Martucci
Vice President, Information Technology

In my years working with LSA, it seems like I’ve had a personal consultant at my fingertips to help me identify just the right solution to satisfy our needs. The entire LSA team has become a trusted friend of Actel — assuring we provide state-of-the-art learning to meet our complex, high-tech business and people needs.

Linda Mitchell
Training 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

We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.

Terri Wright-Scheer
Vice President Human Resources

Understanding and conforming to legal compliance was very important to our company. We turned to LSA Global to provide a quality and cost effective way to ensure that we were AB 1825 compliant. Their interactive eLearning program was top-notch. It allowed our managers to learn at their own pace, and on their own time. The program was tailored to include our logo and our internal harassment policies. It was interactive and met all federal and state legal requirements. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company looking for an efficient and effective and top quality way to train their managers to be in compliance.

Kelly Warren, SPHR
Director, HR & Compliance

We have worked with LSA Global for our learning and development needs and have always had great success. They helped us recently with customized Management Workshops that we held for the second time. It was fantastic, and I would highly recommend LSA to anyone that is attempting to get immediate and impactful improvements.

Mary Johnston
HR Manager, BU Radiology Informatics

LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

Beth A. Taylor
Vice President of Human Resources

Thoratec

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

Sally Buchannan
VP Human Resources

We have been able to utilize LSA’s extensive network of top-notch resources to leverage our investment in employee development. The result has been the cost effective and highly efficient delivery of quality educational and management training programs.

Steve Feller
Vice President, Human Resources

SeaTel has found our partnership with LSA Global to be very valuable and beneficial. We turned to LSA to customize a supervisory/leadership solution to meet our needs. LSA delivered a customized top quality solution. I’d recommend LSA Global to any company looking for a best-in-class training and consulting partner.

Kortney Riddle
HR Manager

VNUS Medical has been very pleased with the effective management development programs that LSA Global has delivered for us over the last four years. The programs have been universally facilitated by experienced and best in class instructors. The knowledge gained by our management team has been put into practice very quickly. VNUS is very happy to be working in partnership with LSA because they consistently deliver excellent programs that receive exceptional feedback from our management team.

Cindee Van Vleck
Director Human Resources

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 exceeded all my expectations. We interviewed 7 potential training and consulting partners and selected LSA due to their expertise, flexibility, and breadth and depth of solutions. We were able to construct a management training course from the modules most appropriate to our needs, and are able to provide additional training from their well developed portfolio of experts. Our managers galvanized as a team throughout the session and are better prepared for the rigors of a competitive market.

Mitch Mandich
CEO

Edify

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