Recently I facilitated a Senior Leadership Team retreat focused on designing their culture. The impetus for the work was due to an upcoming merger. At the end of the day, I asked each participant to give me one word to describe the day. The answers that came back included encouraged, committed and a resounding good! However, the one response I liked the best was enlightened.
So many leaders are struggling in today’s challenging environment to deliver the results demanded by customers and shareholders. How do we shave costs and yet preserve and even enhance the customer experience? The research shows over and over again that those leaders, enlightened leaders, who are actively leveraging their culture are driving better customer experiences and as a result, better financial results.
What enlightened leaders know
I remember the first time I met Richard Barrett and learned of his methodology for defining and measuring culture. I had several “aha” moments during the session. Most of all, it was like the fog lifted and suddenly this intangible thing called culture became very tangible and measurable. Intuitively, and unconsciously, I had been addressing my organizations’ culture throughout my career. However, now I truly understood the impact that culture has on business performance. I had been enlightened myself about the power of organizational culture.
What I discovered was that employee engagement surveys were just giving us a temperature check. They don’t provide the meaningful information that we need in today’s world. The growing millennial workforce, with different values from previous generations, are redefining engagement. The survey questions, unfortunately, are no longer as relevant as they were 15 years ago. Enlightened leaders have moved on to specific cultural assessments instead.
What enlightened leaders do differently
Armed with the results of a cultural assessment, leaders are able to identify the sources and pockets of cultural entropy. Cultural entropy is the measure of pent-up frustration and unproductive time spent as a result of a less than stellar culture. Enlightened leaders are those who are constantly challenging their culture. Yes it may be a good culture today, but they know they need to keep elevating the culture in order to keep up with changes and challenges. These are the leaders who aren’t satisfied with a good culture. They know they need to keep assessing it in order to keep improving it.
Improving culture means having robust conversations about the way work gets done. It’s about taking action to remove barriers. These barriers may be in the form of managers whose behaviours aren’t aligned with the values of the organization. Or, they may be in the form of processes and policies that don’t support the values. The most successful companies make culture a priority and include culture work as part of their strategic and operational plans.
Leveraging your culture
So stop with the employee engagement surveys. Join the ranks of enlightened leaders who have moved on to actively manage culture as a way to address the root causes of obstacles to success. If you want to find cost savings, addressing these obstacles will improve productivity and provide a gold mine in performance improvements. Even if you think you have a pretty good culture today, is it really the culture you need in the near future to stay competitive? Remember, the best cultures are driving better bottom lines. Is your culture a best in class culture?
If you want to learn more about how you can purposely design your culture and fuel your profits, we can help.
- Connect with us for a free consultation about your particular situation and learn the next steps you can take to power the potential of your people
- Read the book Ignite Your Culture, and learn about the 6 step framework for managing culture
- Discover the gold mine for better performance by engaging in a cultural assessment
With enlightenment about culture comes responsibility – a responsibility to build a better workplace and release the potential of your people. And, isn’t that really what leadership is all about?