“How Work Gets Done” Is Your Corporate Culture

“How Work Gets Done” Is Your Corporate Culture
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

The How Work Gets Done vs. the What Gets Done at Your Company

Every company has their version of what matters most in terms of HOW people behave and WHAT value they produce.  In some “win-at-all cost cultures” like Oracle or those climbing Mt. Everest who are willing to walk over a dying person to summit, the WHAT is far more important and far more rewarded than the HOW.  In other companies like Outward Bound or sailors willing to drop whatever they are doing to answer an SOS call, how you behave outweighs the results.

We know from our organizational culture assessment data that, depending upon your strategy and your marketplace, either emphasis can be successful.  Does your workplace culture emphasize the “what” over the “how”?  It’s certainly tempting.   After all, doesn’t every leader want meaningful results?   And isn’t it difficult to measure the behaviors that drive results?

The Right Cultural Balance
Success for most businesses depends not only on delivering high performance results but also on behaving in a way that not only supports a healthy workplace culture where engagement, productivity, and retention thrive but also drives the strategy forward in a way that makes sense.  Because every company strategy is unique, the balance of how work gets done is also unique.  You will know that you have struck the right balance when your culture helps and does not hinder your people and business strategies.

How Work Gets Done
The very definition of corporate culture is how work regularly gets done in an organization.  Your culture, the “how”, represents the actual beliefs, assumptions, behaviors, processes, and business practices that happen daily.  A high performance culture is achieved when the unique beliefs and ways things get done at your company are understood, consistent, and leveraged to best achieve your unique strategy.

Why How Work Gets Done Matters
Your strategy must go through your culture and your people to be successfully implemented.  In fact,

  • Harvard research found that workplace culture accounts for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same industry.
  • Our own 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.

Successful leaders understand and leverage their culture to outperform their competition.

Three Steps to Ensure the Right HOW for Your Culture

  1. Define the Desired Behaviors
    Once your strategy and success metrics are clear and agreed upon, the next step is to define the specific behaviors required to drive your strategy forward across ten research-backed cultural dimensions. Once you define the desired behaviors required to execute your strategy, your next step is to identify and close the key gaps between your desired and your actual corporate culture.

    As you identify gaps, use a combination of targeted development, coaching, incentives and consequences to nudge employees in the right direction.

  2. Expose the WHAT and the HOW
    Successful behavior change requires focus, persistence, encouragement and correction. Establish a fair, timely, and meaningful feedback system that lets everyone know where individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole stands in terms of the WHAT (performance results) and the HOW (behaviors to achieve the results) feedback that includes all levels of employees.

    Remember that leaders should model the desired behaviors and be open to feedback when they fall short.  All team members should be expected and encouraged to give appropriate, relevant, and timely feedback to their peers.

  3. Teach Everyone How to Give and Receive Feedback
    To make sure that people know how to give and receive meaningful feedback in a way that supports a healthy and high performance environment, invest in the training and tools required to create a culture of feedback.

The Bottom Line
How you define and shape your corporate culture has become a critical variable in defining the success and failure of your strategic priorities.  Are you doing all you can as a business leader to see that how work gets done in your organization is fully aligned with where your business needs to go?

To learn more about how work gets done, download How to Build a Purposeful and Aligned Corporate Culture.

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance