Over the course of my 40-year business career, I worked for three businesses, one not-for-profit organization, and one university. I would like to pass along what I have learned in order to emphasize the incredible difference that having a winning organizational culture makes over time.
Two of the organizations had wonderful cultures; three did not.
What is organizational culture?
It is not easy to measure culture because culture is really the feel of the people within the company or not-for-profit organization, e.g., whether they are aligned, excited about their work and serving their clients, take advantage of great teamwork, respect their senior managers, feel pride and loyalty, and strive for continuous improvement—the path to true success.
Sometimes we have it…
Two of the places I worked had this type of culture, which lead to the achievement of sustainable outstanding financial results that met and exceeded goals year after year, leading our organization to be the best in field!
Sometimes we don’t…
The other three places I worked were either focused on making as much money as possible or were very bureaucratic, with most senior managers having big egos, not being accessible, and not being open to ideas. They were managers, not leaders.
Who is responsible for creating a winning organizational culture?
Some senior executives I meet in my work, travels, and daily life seem not to realize the effect they can have on organizational culture. I hear “there is no loyalty today,” “people don’t seem to have the same passion that we did,” and similar rationalizations.
In reality, the people who have the greatest impact on organizational culture are the CEO, other top executives, the boss, and certainly human resource and organizational development professionals. If we don’t have a winning culture, these individuals need to spark change.
How do we know if we are creating a winning organizational culture?
Here is a list of questions that we can ask ourselves in order to gauge whether or not we have a winning culture:
- Is leadership truly shared between women and men, thus taking full advantage of our different leadership competencies?
- How could your company be more family friendly to accommodate women and men with their family responsibilities, e.g., work sharing for maternity needs?
- How often do your have conversations, actual conversations, with your people, all of your people, the ones doing the important work with clients?
- How effective is the leadership training for when someone is promoted?
- How about the training for new employees? It is surprising how few companies explain expectations, e.g., how to be a great teammate, what good communication looks like, constructive ideas are welcome, spot a problem and offer solutions, etc.
- How do you know how effective you are as a leader?
- How do you thank people for their good work? Their dedication? Their hard work?
- How do you help people feel appreciated? Be aware, 75% of people who quit their jobs do so because they do not feel appreciated. And also be aware of the true cost of turnover.
- How do you ask people for their ideas, advice and feedback? Remember, the best ideas are bottom up ideas, from the people actually doing the work.
If you are following these principles, I certainly admire and applaud you. You have a wonderful attitude, are a servant leader, and are contributing toward building a winning organizational culture.
If you are not following these principles, please, put aside your ego. You can do this and will be rewarded, not only with success, but with the heightened feelings of satisfaction and significance that come from leading a great team and helping people grow, learn, and succeed.
I hope this is helpful. It is so very important!