How to Make Organizational Culture Your Secret to Success

Make Organizational Culture Your Secret to Success a woman is holding her finger to her lips as if to say shh for culture as the secret to business success

Make Organizational Culture Your Secret to Success
Want to know a secret? Make organizational culture your secret to success.  Why focus on workplace culture versus all the other potential areas to improve business performance?

Because Workplace Culture Matters

  • Harvard reported an effective culture can account 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 growth companies.
  • Fortune magazine claims that, according to its annual survey of the best companies to work for, an organization’s culture can be the secret to business success.

The importance of corporate culture, however, is both good and bad news.

The Good News
For companies that have a well-established, purposeful and aligned corporate culture based on clear, strong, accepted and understood  values and behaviors, this is good news.  They are on the right path.

The Bad News
For companies whose corporate culture is not well defined, whose employees do not behave in a consistent way, or where the cultural norms are not fully aligned with the strategic intent of the company, the news presents a tough challenge.  Culture change is not easy.

How To Make Organizational Culture Your Secret to Success
What can leaders do to develop a high performance culture that aligns with and ignites their business strategy?  Here are the first three big steps to make organizational culture your secret to success.

1.  Create Strategic Clarity
First, know that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations. As a leader, you must create a clear and compelling strategic direction that your stakeholders:

  • Understand
  • Believe in
  • Feel is implementable at your organization in your industry

While true strategic clarity across stakeholders and levels is no small task, it is an imperative step to aligning strategy and culture to improve performance.  Trying to change culture without strategic clarity is just wishful thinking.

2.  Define Core Corporate Values and Cultural Norms
You need to figure out exactly what your company stands for.

  • What is central to your corporate mission?
  • What values, behaviors and practices are at the core of the way you want to do business?

Strategic clarity answers the “what” and the “why.”  Culture shapes the “how.”  Involve all employees in this process so your organizational culture is not just from the point of view of leadership but also reflects the world in which the work force lives and operates.

3.  Ensure Cultural Consistency
Next you must see that your organizational culture is not just described but consistently:

  • Lived
  • Monitored
  • Rewarded

Especially by leadership. This means that all your systems, practices and processes must support the way you want your employees to do business each and every day. If, for instance, cooperation across business functions is a core value to execute your strategy, a compensation program that rewards individual rather than team achievement would be at odds with your desired corporate environment.

To build a high performance culture, smart leaders expose and adjust any conflicts between strategies, cultural norms, success metrics and reward systems.  Additionally, your hiring practices must be aligned with the kind of workplace you want to shape. Recruit, hire and onboard with an emphasis on cultural fit.

Mismatched new employees will only undermine the environment you desire and will not last long if they feel out of sync with the rest of the work force.

The Bottom Line
If you want to make organizational culture your secret to success, start with strategic clarity and then be thoughtful and purposeful about shaping the culture you want.  Those companies that do:

  • Grow revenue 58% faster
  • Have 72% higher profits
  • Engage employees 16.8-to-1

To learn more about defining an aligned and high performing culture, download How to Build a Purposeful and Aligned Corporate Culture.

 

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