The jury is out, and the verdict is unanimous. When a company has an excellent culture with motivated employees who love their job, they will do better. Full stop, close the book and put it back on the shelf.
If only it was that easy.
Research from Bain & Co. of 365 companies in Europe, Asia, and North America has revealed that 68% of leaders believe their culture is a source of competitive advantage. 76% believe it is changeable, with 65% believing they need to change it. While 81% believe that an organization without a high-performing culture is doomed to fail, only 10% succeed in building one. Do your employees really have a case of the Mondays, or is your corporate culture failing you?
Everyone has a role to play in cultivating and maintaining a winning culture, and often times this motivation needs to start from the top of the organizational ladder and work its way down. Sitting and waiting for change to manifest won’t get you anywhere, so as a business owner, keep these five tips in mind when looking to improve more than just the water cooler conversation at the office.
1. Set Expectations
Ignoring issues won’t solve them. Addressing them clearly and setting benchmarks for improvement will. Gather a team of key employees from every level in your company and determine what kind of culture you’re looking to build and how it will lead to success. Tap into your company’s heritage and points of differentiation to find out which performance attributes are missing, and create an action plan for change.
2. Align your Leadership
An old Turkish proverb, “the fish stinks first at the head”, applies to corporate culture just as much as it does to marine biology. If your company’s leaders don’t buy into your culture, the rest of your staff will follow. What leaders do and say plays a large part in dictating the overall direction of your corporate culture, and without their support, any initiative you try to start will be meaningless. Ensure buy-in on a common vision and live the behaviours required to achieve it.
3. Focus on Delivery
To foster a culture of accountability, you need to emphasize the importance of delivery. Spending time and money on a formal culture shift project will fall flat if it isn’t ingrained into every facet of your business and then routinely supported and delivered upon. You can’t create culture from thin air. Once the foundation is set, it needs to be made clear, then reinforced through consistent evaluation across all touch points.
4. Engage Employees
Clarify job responsibilities and how they relate to those more senior and junior. Add incentives or performance metrics so everyone is on the same page and has a common target to aim for. Replace people if necessary—your efforts will be in vain if one or two key people refuse to adapt. This step isn’t easy, but it’s probably the most important step you can take to get the right people in the right position to succeed.
5. Celebrate Success
There’s no such thing as a winning culture without celebration. Once the goals have been set, the right people are in place, and delivery is consistent and positive, celebrate your success and let everyone know. Setting metrics and goals are only useful if there’s some form of reward on the horizon. If you fail to recognize and reward success, employees will begin to see through you and won’t view your efforts very seriously. Continue to maintain momentum.
Creating a winning culture isn’t easy, and will take time and turnover. It’s important to give as much effort on the outset of the initiative as it is to remain enthusiastic throughout. Your reward for fostering a great culture is a happier workforce, better talent candidates, and most importantly, an exponential return on your investment and overall better performance in the marketplace.
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