When I say “culture,” some of you probably get that glazed over look; many may think I’ve slipped into meaningless consultant jargon or that I’m showing my true colors as a lover of all that “soft stuff” (I do have a degree in counseling, after all.) But, hopefully, you’ll perk up when I share some of the compelling research around the business reasons for caring about your company’s culture.
The truth is, culture drives your company’s brand, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, business results. Need some convincing? I was recently at a training based on the book All In by Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick which cited a Harvard Business School study. The study spanned 11 years where they compared strong, positive cultures with weaker cultures, and the results were impressive. Positive cultures - defined as staying agile in changing markets, highly valuing employees and encouraging leadership from everyone - outperformed weak cultures by 516% in revenue growth and by 827% in stock appreciation…. The point is, positive culture pays.
All In is based on a research study that the authors commissioned from Towers Watson. They studied companies with great cultures that outperformed competitors by 2 or 3x. The goal of the study was to answer these questions:
- How do the best cultures get people to buy in?
- What can a manager do to build a profitable culture in his or her team?
The study found that there are three crucial elements of a high-performance culture:
- Engaged: People feel a strong attachment to the company and are willing to give extra effort
- Enabled: People work in an environment that supports productivity & performance
- Energized: People have a greater sense of well-being and drive at work
We’ve all heard a lot about employee engagement, and the staggering statistics about how many employees are simply not engaged at work. So, what drives engagement? Their research shows the top driver of engagement is when employees feel they have the opportunity to grow and develop and someone cares about their well-being. The feeling their leader is looking out for their interests, welfare and growth is key to engagement.
Gostick and Elton’s method peels back the onion one more layer. If the top driver of engagement is opportunity and well-being, what drives those? In their model, appreciation is at the heart of what makes people feel valued at work. Never underestimate the value of taking the time to appreciate those around you.
Here it is - the one simple thing you can do today to cultivate a positive culture that will pay big dividends for you, your company and your customers - say "thank you." Look around and find someone who has lived your Core Values or demonstrated exceptional work. Your appreciation doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to be effective. It just has to be sincere, specific, and personal. A hand-written note or a few heartfelt words can be far more memorable and meaningful than an expensive plaque or even additional performance compensation.
Good luck building a high-performance team, and remember that the small things can make a big difference!
Want more information on a high performance culture? Check out these additional resources:
The Power of Systems and People: Accountable Leaders and Teams leadership development program to improve team performance.
Take Our Team Accountability Assessment to see how your team stacks up.
Learn more about accountable leaders and teams.
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images