why a healthy, high-performance culture matters
Every company has its own unique culture, defined by a collective set of values and habits that condition actions of people within the organization. Culture is essentially the written and unwritten rules of how people work with each other, customers and other stakeholders.
Cultures become ingrained over time as a response to the style and actions of an influential leader. An organization's culture plays a significant role in its ability to successfully execute strategic plans. Successful leaders shape their cultures instead of allowing their cultures to shape the company.
What is culture shaping?
Culture shaping is a methodical, comprehensive and integrated approach to shifting a company's culture from the top to the bottom. Building a healthy, high-performance culture involves changing the behaviors of the individuals and teams that make up the organization. Cultural transformation requires personal transformation as its foundation.
Why does a culture need to be shaped?
Leaders who have worked with us to systematically shape their cultures have a strong understanding that creating a thriving, high-performance culture aligned with their company's mission, vision and values is not the “soft stuff”, but is a vital strategy for success in and of itself. There are many demonstrated benefits that translate into measurable, sustainable improved performance.
Why does shaping a culture require a well coordinated, integrated approach?
Shaping a culture is a journey, not an event. The process requires an integrated approach that must begin at the top of the organization and be embedded throughout the entire company. Most leaders who try to shape the culture on their own don't succeed. However, if done correctly, shaping a culture can be very successful, positive, rewarding and stimulating process.
What are the key culture-shaping principles leaders should be aware of and focus on?
Cultures happen by default or design. Leading the culture of the organization is a critical factor in effective execution of your strategy. At best, the corporate culture can be a competitive advantage; at worst, it can be a significant drag on business results. Shifting a culture requires a complete and comprehensive system of change, with an awareness of and a focus on the following principles:
P urposeful leadership
The CEO and senior leadership must own and lead the culture-shaping process.
Leaders need to have a clear, compelling purpose for themselves and their organization, coupled with a strong business rationale to inspire a Thriving organizational culture.
P ersonal change
The process needs to be supported by resources and a systematic execution plan, like any other business strategy.
Leaders cast a powerful shadow; therefore, the culture needs to be explicitly defined via values and behaviors and modeled by the senior team.
B road engagement with energy, momentum and mass
People need to unfreeze existing habits and make personal behavior change. This occurs on an emotional (not intellectual) level, can only develop through insight-based learning, and is best accomplished in natural work teams to shift thinking and reinforce change.
People need to understand the purpose/reason for shaping their culture. They need to be clear on the “from and to” of the journey. They need to understand what's in it for them.
F ocused sustainability
Cultures often resist what they need. Momentum, energy and critical mass are needed to engage all employees. The faster people are engaged in the process, the higher the probability the culture will shift.
A broad group of active, visible leaders need to engage all employees, top to bottom, in shaping the desired culture. (Leaders leading leaders.)
Systematic reinforcement is needed at the individual, team and the organization level.
Institutional practices, systems, performance drivers and capabilities need to drive toward the desired culture — including, but not limited to: communication, training, measurement, rewards and reinforcement, performance management and HR practices, and physical layout.
Visible application, measureable results with feedback and coaching, rewards and consequences are needed to make the culture real and create accountability.