Culture plays a critical role in any organization’s success. Not only does it enable a company to sustain its performance but at the same time, companies with a winning culture gain a competitive advantage. According to research by Bain & Company, 70 percent of business leaders believe that culture is the greatest source of competitive advantage and 80 percent of these leaders feel that organizations that lack a high-performance culture can be nothing but mediocre.
A high-performance organizational culture offers several benefits. It increases employee loyalty; it improves employee motivation levels; and it enables employees to feel part of a team. In addition, a healthy culture ensures that employees maintain healthy relationships with the company’s customers. By making employees feel a part of a team, the business can successfully transfer a feeling of ownership to the employees. This results in a greater sense of personal responsibility and a focus on the company’s ultimate goal.
Despite the fact that culture is such a huge factor for success, it is ironic that only 10 percent of companies are actually successful at creating and maintaining a winning culture. Findings show that companies all across Europe, Asia and North America fail to either create or sustain a high-performance culture.
The primary reason why businesses often fail to create a winning culture despite knowing its importance is that they actually do not know which strategies and measures would create such a culture. There has been a great deal of research and talk about how culture should be a priority for businesses and the integral role it can play in the success or failure of a company but as far as outlining tangible actions to achieve said culture are concerned, there is very little information available.
The foundation of any culture lies in the values of the company. If you don’t know the company values, it is very difficult to create a culture that is designed for success. Companies have a tendency of outlining long-winding mission statements that highlight big aspirations and inspiring visions but do these mission statements present an idea about the clear and present goal of that organization? In most cases, they don’t.
The secret to creating a winning culture is to first identify the organization’s short term goal. Organizational performance should then be measured against this singular goal and every team member should be aligned to achieve this particular goal. Without a clear sense of what the company wants to do and what it wants to achieve, it is not possible to establish the way an organization wants its employees to behave. Once the whole team is on the same page, it becomes easier to transfer values within it.
Another important thing to remember is that a winning culture does not an evaluation of how people feel about the company but it is the ability to successfully alter their habitual behaviour. By identifying unproductive habits and replacing them with productive behaviours can bring about a world of change to the organization’s culture and its performance. We all hear about financial audits but it is equally important to conduct an audit of the organization’s culture to determine its strong elements, its weaknesses and shortfalls and areas of opportunities that can help improve organizational performance. An audit can sometimes reveal surprising things. For example an organization could be doing fairly well. Employees are happy, customers are happy but still there is something missing. An audit could show that maybe there is a lack of transparency or maybe employees are not held accountable enough or maybe there is a lack of collaboration between departments etc. The point is that there may be some element inherent in the organization’s culture that could be hindering its growth and progress.
There is a misconception that culture is simply the ability to provide employees a work environment where they are happy to work. This is not completely true. Culture is not just about making employees feel good about their workplace but it is also about making them realize the importance of the company’s goals. Culture is about instilling a set of employee behaviours that would result in maximum output, unmatched loyalty and consistent performance. These elements include honesty, focus on performance, accountability and responsibility, collaboration, agility, innovativeness and a desire to win. No organization can claim to have all these elements but trying to achieve as many as possible could definitely give a boost to any organization’s culture.
Another very important element of a winning culture is creating an environment where employees are not considered as subordinates but as important contributors to the company’s bottom line. A culture based on giving directives and expecting performance as demanded rarely thrives. In contrast, organizations that treat each employee as an important contributor toward the achievement of company goals and an organization that pays close attention to what their employees have to say will fare much better. It is thus important to make employees feel part owners; to listen to their feedback and input; to address their concerns and queries; to appreciate when they do well and to identify areas of opportunities when they fail to perform as expected. The objective should be to lead and not direct. This would result in an organization that is not only a happier place to work for but also a place where everyone contributes and where everyone has a say.
Overall, it is evident that culture plays an important role in the success or failure of an organization. Talking about creating a winning culture is very easy but actually creating such a culture is quite difficult. It will take time and effort; it will take great leadership; it will take excellent communication and collaboration; and most of all, it will require the involvement of each and every member of the organization.