Creating a high-performance culture
What often separates the highest-performing organisations from the rest is culture. We view culture as the cumulative effect of what people do and how they do it – and it determines an organisation’s performance.Authors: Marina De Moerlooze & Sonja Noben
What do you truly value?
When companies start, leaders set the company’s values — not by what they write on the wall, but how they actually act. Hence, employees quickly learn the “rules of the game” to survive and thrive at the company, and act accordingly, which may have nothing to do with what values are plastered all over the walls.
As the old saying goes, you reap what you sow. As leaders, you get the behaviour that you reward. Marina De Moerlooze
If you want your company’s culture to be congruent with those noble aspirations written on your company’s wall, you must continually assess how well your employees are behaving compared to those aspirational values and develop ways to bridge the gap between aspiration and practice. The best way to do this is to directly reinforce value-driven behaviour, including making it an integral part of employee’s reviews and weighting it as highly as performance.
The gap between aspirational and practised values is diagnostic of how much your company’s culture needs to improve. The actions you are taking to bridge the gap is prognostic of whether it will.
Bridging the gap
If culture is so vital, then how do you make an organisation’s culture as high-performing as possible?
Create a consistent employee experience
Four levers shift mindsets and behaviours: articulating a compelling change story; leadership role modelling; skill-building; and formal changes to processes, systems, and incentives. Executing a program where each lever works in harmony forms a coherent experience for employees that minimizes confusion and accelerates the transition to a new culture.
Every cue from how agile performance reviews are conducted to how ceremonies are run sends a signal about the “right way” to think and behave. To shift to a new set of behaviours, organisations need to grasp the cues they send and the root cause mindsets they create. Then they can reframe and address those underlying mindsets to achieve new behaviours.
Lead the journey in rigorous and employee-centric ways
Too often, a call for culture change only moves from the top of an organisation down through the ranks. Instead, take an “employee-first” view when designing change efforts.
We frequently see culture treated as a side project, without the rigour commensurate with a major business initiative. Research shows that organizations with higher-performing cultures create a 3x return to shareholders. That’s why organizations should treat culture as a top priority. It is one of the essential drivers of business performance.