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.

We engaged LSA to design and deliver a 6-month custom executive coaching program for a group of our key leaders. The focus of the program was to help a core group of senior leaders to leverage previous investments in management training, to ensure the engagement and retention of key employees, and to push critical strategic initiatives forward. Even with the high expectations of our senior people, LSA has completely exceeded our expectations. I would recommend them to anyone looking to create and implement a custom coaching methodology using proven tools to drive true change.

Ivan Fukumoto
Senior HR Manager - Staffing, Training, & Development

I have worked with LSA Global at previous companies and welcomed the opportunity to bring them in to support my new organization. We worked closely with LSA to design a solution for our Client Partner Teams and Management Training on both coasts. LSA designed a customized solution for our business and organizational culture. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner that makes an impact.

Laurie Torres
Chief People Officer

Avon’s success is dependent on strong relationships among our Customers, Representatives, Associates, and outside resources we hire to help us meet our business objectives. We were very pleased with the results from working with LSA Global to design and facilitate a custom program for our events management team. LSA demonstrated responsiveness, flexibility, and an innovative approach to working with us.

Deanna Rudnitsky
Senior Manager, HR Destiny Sales Region

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 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

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

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

I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.

Phyllis Moracco
HR Director

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

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

I’ve partnered with LSA Global at two companies now, and I consider them a valuable and trusted training and consulting resource. They recommended just the right solution to address our management development needs and have wonderful facilitators that match YuMe’s culture and style of our management team. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions with a valuable learning and development partner.

Maya Paul
HR Director

Harmonic has worked with LSA for over 8 years. We have found their partnership extremely beneficial. We recently implemented a Management Development Program that was designed and customized to support our company’s strategic initiative of hiring, building, and retaining key intellectual property and human talent. We worked closely with LSA to target and implement the right solutions with the greatest impact. I would recommend LSA to any company that’s looking for a trusted training and development partner.

Janice Passarello
Director of Human Resources

Hyperion has a commitment to lifelong learning. LSA helps us provide the right business sales training, management training programs, and leadership development programs at the right time to meet the needs of both individuals and departments. I especially appreciate their ability to listen to my needs and recommend the appropriate facilitators, solutions and content.

Sarah Parks
Senior Project Manager

Hyperion

LSA has been a tremendous asset to my portfolio, both at my current company and my past company. As an HR leader, I am always looking for ways to find external resources that can provide a solution to our management training needs. LSA does that for me. Their solutions are presented in a much more leadership-oriented manner so as to be crisp, business relevant, and easy to apply right back on the job. I will continue to augment our programs using LSA solutions.

Ken Boehm
VP of Human Resources

The refreshing thing about LSA is that they focus on understanding our business situation and helping me succeed instead of selling a product. With over 150 experts, they are an invaluable resource that helps me deliver higher quality results faster. I recommend them to anyone looking to improve the performance of their workforce.

Stacie Rodgers
VP of Human Resources

Cutera

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