Organizational culture is a well-discussed topic for its potential to make or break execution. Developing the culture is a journey that needs continuous nurturing. The bigger the organization grows, the more challenging it is to ensure you cultivate the culture appropriately to support the strategy into execution.
- Organizational culture can provide a competitive advantage when developed and nurtured effectively.
- Transparent culture measurement through regular anonymous employee surveys helps gain truthful feedback and enables co-development of the culture.
- Co-developing the culture with employees fosters ownership and alignment.
- Acting on cultural insights derived from transparent measurements allows for continuous improvement, identification of best practices, and focused support where needed.
“Fostering a healthy culture can be the ultimate competitive advantage in a world where business models are easily replicated.” A healthy, sustainable culture is essential for internal reasons such as retention, well-being, innovation, and performance and because customers often decide to work with “people who believe what you believe.”
“Fostering a healthy culture can be the ultimate competitive advantage in a world where business models are easily replicated.”
While organizational culture is defined differently across scholars, it often includes “the ways people in the organization behave and the attitudes and beliefs that inform those behaviors … including formal, stated norms as well as implicit ways people work and interact.”
Co-developing the culture
As organizational culture has increased in importance and become holistic, the shift from a traditional top-down to a co-developed approach must happen to grow a healthy culture where people perform.
You write the playbook, and employees and leaders act on what you tolerate and the environment you create for them. When you let them in on the culture development journey and engage them in change, they build ownership of it and are more likely to act in alignment.
The neuroscience of experiences
People view reality based on their values, past experiences, and how they see the world. Therefore, when you ask your people about their subjective understanding of reality, they explain what is real to them from their point of view. And, every leader and employee will act on what they believe is the reality.
Neuroscience shows that emotions impact other emotions. For people to perform at their best, you must provide an environment where their brain chemicals are beneficially released. A key is to ensure employees perceive essential well-being such as psychological safety, inclusion, connection, acknowledgment, stimulation, motivation, and clear expectation. To create a healthy work environment, leaders must earn employee trust, show recognition, instill future expectations, include others, and support their team on their journey.
Ensuring your culture develops appropriately means understanding how employees experience it and letting them co-develop. A digital People & Culture Experience platform fueled by regular anonymous employee surveys is a proven tool to know and work with the employee experience in such a way.
When an employee survey runs with a transparent measurement process, you gain truthful answers, constructive feedback, and a stronger sense of responsibility-taking for the needed change. Accountability shifts from the leader to the team to ensure work is carried out in alignment with the culture.
By regularly measuring, you continuously understand how employees experience their work environment and find out what works well and what might be in the way of performance. When you make the employee survey results immediately available to the entire organization, not just senior management or HR, you let everyone take ownership of living and co-developing the culture.
Acting on current cultural insights
Regular measurements give you important insights and a current understanding of how the culture supports your strategy execution. You capture issues as they happen and can predict, for example, sick leave and attrition. Comparing teams across the organization, you uncover best practices and can focus support where needed.
“You capture issues as they happen and can predict, for example, sick leave and attrition.”
Following each measurement result, productive team conversation about improvements and celebrations becomes easier and more natural for both the leader and the employee. What needs to be discussed has surfaced in the transparent measurement process, and everyone can individually reflect and prepare their thoughts for the next team meeting.
A joint organization
In most organizations, people represent their most critical asset. Leveraging your culture to ensure your organization reaches its goals can become your key competitive advantage. As leaders, teams, and individuals might struggle to understand or live the culture, measuring it transparently brings the entire organization together. It focuses everyone on what is essential to perform. Leaving the surprises out, you move towards knowing and being able to realign the factors that impact your culture where and when needed to unlock its competitive advantage.