Organizations of all sizes and in most industries are being hit by massive disruptions on all fronts: non-stop technological innovation, an increasingly diverse workforce, and a rapidly shifting global economy. This kind of relentless uncertainty could pull your organization in many directions, or even apart. But not if your culture is strong. A strong culture is the glue that holds organizations together in the face of any disruption, large or small.
How do you know if your culture is strong? And if it isn’t strong, how can you improve it? In the nearly 40 years that we’ve helped companies manage employee performance, we’ve observed dozens of workplace cultures and have some observations to share. These might be helpful as you examine your own organization.
Culture rests on clearly articulated, commonly shared values. Organizations that come out as winners have stated values that are shared across the workforce. This set of values appears in formal communications, they are frequently referenced, and they form the backbone of expectations management holds of the workforce. We see this played out in rewards and recognition programs.
Culture starts at the top. It’s a cliché that C-suite executives must live their organization’s values, but it’s a good cliché. Management that says one thing and does another quickly loses credibility. And maybe worse, employees that sense they cannot trust their managers become demotivated and disengaged.
Culture and engagement go hand-in-hand. A strong culture engages employees, and engaged employees strengthen an organization’s culture. Because the culture rests on shared values, employees know what is expected of them. Those expectations provide clarity and a point of focused engagement when disruptions threatens to sow confusion.
Culture requires ongoing reinforcement. To endure, an organization’s culture requires continuous reinforcement. The reason company values are widely trumpeted is keep them top of mind for all stakeholders—employees, customers, investors, and the community in which the company operates.
Culture must be flexible. An organization’s culture must be able to adapt to a changing environment. We’ve seen companies that get locked into patterns that once were useful but now stand in the way of their success. In order to enable those organizations to experience improved employee performance, we sometimes need to draw attention to behaviors or ways of “doing the work” that no longer support organizational goals.
The idea of a “corporate culture” burst on the scene more than 30 years ago with the publication of the 1982 best seller Corporate Culture: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life by Allan Kennedy and Terence Deal. Once again, CEOs are very concerned about their business culture, with 86 percent citing culture as a primary issue, even topping engagement at 85 percent. In today’s disruptive business environment, their concern is well-placed.
Are you looking for a thoughtfully designed recognition and rewards program that supports your organization’s culture? Contact a Marketing Innovators solutions expert to learn about our proven programs and a new generation SaaS platform with the agility today’s businesses need.