3 Steps to Creating a Gold Medal Culture

Carol Ring Corporate Culture Consultant with OlympiansWith the Olympics just around the corner, the talk is heating up about medals, and gold medals in particular. Will swimmer Michael Phelps add to his record stash? Will the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt come out on top again? I’m an Olympic enthusiast so I’ll be watching for sure. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with several Canadian medal winners and their insights are always so interesting.

When you look at your business – are you going for gold? Are you striving to be the best in your industry, your city, your country? Would your customers award you one of these scarce medals? Here are three ways to move your organization onto the podium.

1. Create a culture aligned with your strategy

There are many business analogies made every time the Olympics come around: the importance of a vision, strategic planning to peak at just the right moment, goal setting, and constant training to upgrade skills. As the leader of your team, driving a winning culture is just as important as all the strategic planning. If you want to achieve the most success in all aspects of your business then you need to have an aligned culture to support the effort. It’s about creating a culture for winning.

For example, does your strategy have you beating the competition based on superior customer service? If so, what are you doing to ensure your culture supports this critical piece of your strategic plan? Are you hiring people who love to serve? Are you providing the tools and training to maximize the customer experience? Are you recognizing and rewarding your employees based on delivering exceptional service? Or, are your processes and policies acting as a barrier to success?

2. Measure Your Culture

When athletes train to reach the pinnacle of their support they are constantly measuring their progress. They measure their fitness levels, every training and event session is timed, they hire the best coaches to fine tune their skills and they constantly seek out innovation in their sport.

The same goes for culture. If you want to know how successful your culture is, you need to measure it (hyperlink to carolring.ca/consulting). Those of you who know me well know that I’m not talking about an employee engagement survey.  Please, they are just surveys about the symptom. I’m talking about a specific culture survey such as the one I use from the Barrett Values Centre.  Once you know where you stand you can create an action plan, a training program of sorts that will help you strengthen your culture. And measuring the progress of your action plan will ensure you manage the initiatives to completion. Do you have a culture dashboard included in your monthly key business indicators?

3. Commit to the Journey

Every time I tune into the Olympics I am inspired by the stories. The passion and dedication of each athlete as they strive for excellence. They do it for their country, their sport and for themselves. They are training and competing to achieve their full potential. Since the Olympics only come around once every 4 years, it’s a long training and competition cycle.  Athletes have to be committed to the journey.

The same is true of your culture journey. Turning your culture around or shifting the culture of an acquisition takes time. You can’t just hang inspirational posters on the wall and expect people to behave differently. You have to apply consistent actions from the top, you have to reinforce it through constant communications, and you have look at it as an open ended program. Are you committed to the journey or are you going to sit in status quo and let a default culture keep you from reaching the starting line? What’s holding you back from pursuing a culture worthy of a gold medal?

The wonder of the Olympic Games

Olympic athletes are successful because they have passion, they’ve received training from the very best, and they have a vision to reach the pinnacle. But most of all, they’ve created a culture of support around them, a culture that allows them to reach their full potential. Imagine if your employees were passionate about their work. What if they were to receive ongoing training from the very best to elevate their skill set to the highest level? What if your people, processes and policies were all aligned to the ultimate goal. And what if the culture of the organization was purposely designed to support all the efforts?

As you experience the wonder of the Olympic Games over the next few weeks, take some time to reflect on how you can make your organization a gold medal winner by igniting your culture.

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