Not paying attention to culture undermines performance

Performance Management - Target

Corporate culture is not a set of core values developed by a small group of people at an off-site leadership meeting. It is not always what a chief executive describes in an annual report or shareholder’s meeting. In fact, corporate culture is not always what the leadership team of an organization says or thinks it is.

Corporate culture is important because it shapes the work environment in which performance occurs. Ultimately, not paying attention to culture undermines an organization’s profitability and sustainability. The good news is that corporate culture does not have to emerge by default – it can be designed and developed in thoughtful, intentional ways.

Strategic leaders begin with a careful assessment of the cultural reality around them, examining both their own perspective of the organization as well as the actual experience of those within the organization.

The goal in designing and developing a corporate culture that inspires high performance is creating alignment between values and organizational practices or behavior. This means that culture, which is often thought about as intangible, must be made tangible. People within the organization must hear about values and consistently experience those values on a daily basis. Finally, the discerning leaders will involve those within the organization in articulating the desired culture based on shared values. It is not unusual to find that answers and solutions for creating alignment between values and behavior already reside in the people doing the work. The benefit of involving the entire organization in this process is buy-in, which translates into a motivational environment where people can be and do their very best.

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Corporate culture is one of the key drivers for the success – or failure – of an organization. A good, well-aligned culture can propel it to success. However, the wrong culture will stifle its ability to adapt to a fast-changing world.

by Torben Rick

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