Culture is a social energy built over time, which can move people to act or impede them from acting. Culture will develop by design or default; the decision for leaders is whether to shape culture intentionally.
Over the past 15 years, studies have demonstrated a clear link between culture and performance. In the face of such clear evidence, we can see that shaping organizational culture is more than nice to do, but is a business imperative that has a tangible, meaningful impact on the bottom line. From large-scale culture initiatives to organizational climate research, Peak Development finds solutions that drive business results.
Culture efforts see their greatest impact by focusing in four key areas:
- Communication – Crafting both the language used to describe the culture and desired behaviors, as well as a communication plan that includes multiple channels, regular frequency, and face-to-face methods.
- Leadership – The #1 way that culture gets shaped is by what leaders model; Peak Development functions as a backstage coach to leaders to help them be intentional about what they are modeling.
- Education – People have to be given a chance to learn in order for a culture to thrive; providing the skills/tools needed to be successful in the new model is an important element in making the culture sustainable.
- Reinforcement – While choosing which behaviors will be rewarded sends a clear message, how those behaviors are rewarded is of equal importance. Both formal rewards (via company performance management systems) and informal rewards (via a more personal approach) are key to reinforcing the behaviors that collectively shape the culture.
Most importantly, determine what business strategies the culture is driving; if you cannot connect your culture to a strategic direction, you are missing a critical link in ROI.
Shaping culture is a discipline and demands the same time, rigor, and conscious attention as any business endeavor. It requires both science and artistry: practical knowledge of the tools and methodologies available and deep experience to know what will resonate with a company and its employees. When both are combined, great success can be achieved because people will nourish what they’ve helped create.