How to Design a High Performance Culture

How to Design a High Performance Culture
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What Corporate Culture Is
Do you know how to design a high performance culture?  Culture is your organization’s unique approach to how it executes strategy. If strategy is “WHAT” you want to accomplish and “WHY”, then culture is “HOW” you execute it on a day-to-day basis.

For example, let’s say your organization wants to grow market share by 10% to meet growth targets. To accomplish this, what approach to the market should your organization take? Should it be more of a market adopter, focused on improving existing offerings (like KIA)? Or should it be more of a market leader, creating brand new offerings (like Tesla)?

The answer informs “HOW” the employees of the organization collectively drive strategy execution in terms of market approach. Because strategy must go through people and culture to get implemented, choices like this represent your organization’s culture.

What Corporate Culture Is NOT

  • Corporate culture is NOT only about having fun. Every workplace and office should have an engaging and healthy environment, but it doesn’t necessarily make your organization unique.
  • Culture is NOT only about corporate values. Values are important, but almost every organization in a 10-mile radius probably shares the majority of your espoused corporate values.  (e.g., Integrity, Inclusion, Innovation, Collaboration, Trust, Accountability, etc.).  What truly sets you apart from the pack to your employees and to your customers?
  • Culture is also NOT only about employee engagement. Engaged employees are critical, but employee engagement is simply one aspect of organization health.

The Point
The point is that none of these (a fun environment, your corporate values, or employee engagement) truly set your organization apart from others. Everyone wants to have a fun environment, be values-driven, and have highly-engaged colleagues.  Today, organizational health is just a ticket to play the game.

Your workplace culture is your organization’s unique approach to “HOW” work gets done — it’s what makes your organization different from all others.

Culture is how things are truly accomplished in your organization and can be measured by understanding the way people think, behave, and work.  Our organizational alignment research found that cultural factors account for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.

Don’t Build Your Corporate Culture – Shape It
The good news is that your corporate culture already exists. Your workplace culture (“how”) emerged as soon as the organization had strategic goals (“what”) to pursue. The bad news is that most leaders don’t know how to measure and shape their culture in a strategically purposeful way.

4 Steps to Design a High Performance Culture
How leaders define and shape their corporate culture however can make or break their strategies.  To align your culture with your strategy:

  1. Define the Needed Culture
    Conduct a facilitated conversation with strategic decision-makers. Because they set the strategic direction, they are best positioned to determine the specific culture required to achieve key strategic goals.
  2. Measure the Current Culture
    Interview and survey employees to assess the current culture to identify key gaps between the current and desired culture.
  3. Prepare People Leaders
    Once the major gaps have been identified, it is time to prepare your people leaders to share survey results and lead the cultural shifts required to ensure smooth strategy execution.
  4. Set Up Ongoing Support
    As with any organizational change, people leaders will experience obstacles and need support. Identify and train select culture champions to help track progress and provide support.

The Bottom Line
Cultural alignment is about ensuring that your culture helps, not hinders, strategy execution. Done right, your culture should create a unique competitive advantage.  To achieve a high performing culture, you do need to proactively measure and shape it.  Are you aligned?

To learn more about how to design a high performance culture, download The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture that You Must Get Right

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