Human Capital Mentors
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Culture by Design or by Default

A company’s culture can have a powerful impact on its performance.  Culture is the glue that binds an organization together and it’s the hardest thing for competitors to copy.  As a result, it can be a lasting source of competitive advantage.  Too many companies think of culture as a way to make people feel good about where they work and not as a way to help employees — hence the organization — perform better.  A 2016 Gallup survey of 1.4 million employees found that the top 25% most engaged teams experienced a double-digit advantage in customer metrics, productivity, and profitability.  High-performing companies think about culture differently.  They know that winning cultures aren’t just about affiliation; they are also unashamedly about results. 

Culture starts with the organization’s leaders - it is very little about what we say and very much about what we do.

•        Create clarity.  Leaders need to be aligned and clear around a strategy and values that help them define success. 

•        Promote trust.  Operate with honesty and transparency.  Communicate, communicate, communicate.

•        Walk a mile in their shoes.  Understand their experiences, situation, thought process and challenges.

•        Turn on the creative taps. Teams who feel empowered to be creative feel more positive about making a real impact in their workplace and are less afraid of failure. They are also more emotionally vested in their work.

•        Dish out what’s deserved. Validation matters to people who consistently put 110% into their job.  Let them know you noticed.

 If you set the right culture, it’ll determine who gets hired, how people behave and how decisions are made.  Get started.  You don’t have to do everything at once.

•        Goals are clear and people are rewarded for results.  Employees want to know what they’re responsible for and how they’re being evaluated.  Employees are rewarded for results, not their position. 

•        Teams are empowered.  When employees feel they own their work, they take it seriously, because their work becomes a reflection of themselves.

•        People want to be part of a winning team.  When leaders are aligned with each other and communicate well, employees get on board and want to succeed.

•        Hire intelligent, passionate and diverse talent.  Focus on “fit” and potential first; required skills second, as these can always be developed and improved.

•        Focus on learning and development at all organizational levels. In order to grow the capabilities of the organization and the talent pool, it’s important to invest in training for employees for further growth and development in their career.

•        Create a compelling Employee Value Proposition.  Actively communicate what makes your company unique so that employees will commit themselves to your organization. 

•        Celebrate.  Heroes and superstars should be encouraged and celebrated. Rewarding and celebrating achievement will drive others to success.

•        Communicate, communicate, communicate.


About the Author 

Greg Wilgenbusch is the President at Human Capital Mentors and has over 25 years of comprehensive Human Resources experience with global leadership teams, in both public and private equity firms, building capabilities and business processes to deliver significant revenue growth and improved profitability. 

If your organization’s culture is by default and not by design, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we may help your company successfully create a winning, high-performing culture.

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Greg Wilgenbusch