Understanding your company’s culture drives performance outcomes.
We all know that the right culture is source of competitive advantage. But so many of the leaders we work with often have blind spots about the beliefs and assumptions that influence peoples’ behavior and why they do the things they do. As a result, they, at best, only have a cursory understanding of the one thing that no competitor can replicate.
To get started with understanding your company’s culture, meet with people up and down your organization to talk about their perception of what’s important to you and your leadership team. These perceptions are formed based on what they have observed about where you make investments of time and resources and how you react to events that can significantly impact the business.
Once you identify peoples’ perceptions about what’s important, identify the beliefs they have about what it takes to be successful at your organization and accepted by their co-workers and the people they report to.
Employee perceptions about what’s important and what they believe it takes to be successful will drive behaviors. Those behaviors will heavily influence your culture.
To illustrate, let’s look at the unedited comments from focus groups that we held with two companies.
|Company A||Company B|
|Perceptions about what’s important to leadership.||
|Beliefs about what it takes to be successful.||
|Dominate behaviors within the organization||
At the time of the focus groups, Company A was growing at a steady pace but experiencing higher than industry average turnover, significant employee morale issues and a decline in gross profit margins. Company B on the other hand, was growing profitability at a rate faster than their peers. Employee engagement was high, and turnover was below industry averages.
By understanding the beliefs and dominant behaviors that were driving decisions, each organization’s leadership developed valuable insight into their culture and key influencers of performance outcomes.