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Is Your Culture Delivering Results?

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Great leaders create the environment that makes strategy happen." - Peter Drucker

Whether it’s through financial performance, customer satisfaction and engagement, or operational efficiency, all organisations measure their success by their results. But what is it that drives results?

One of the key elements is an organisation’s culture. Employees who are enjoy their work are more productive and are more likely to help their organisation to succeed. This might sound obvious, but there are still thousands of companies in the UK that do not prioritise the wellbeing and engagement of their people. In other words, they do not nurture the culture needed to deliver results.

Every organisation, from bustling start-ups to established corporations, operates within an invisible energy. This culture encompasses the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that define how things get done within the organisation. It's the undercurrent that shapes communication, decision-making, and ultimately, the results your company achieves.

Far from being a fluffy concept, company culture has a significant impact on a wide range of organisational outcomes. Understanding this connection is crucial for leaders who want to optimize their business and achieve sustainable success.

The Tangible Impact of Culture

To feel seen you need to feel heard... what we want is for them to feel valued at Advanced, we want them to understand how important they are.” – Claire Webb, Executive Chair, Advanced Supply Chain

Culture's influence can be felt across various aspects of your company:

Employee Engagement and Productivity: A positive culture fosters a sense of belonging, purpose, and trust among employees. Engaged employees are more motivated, productive, and less likely to leave the company.

Innovation and Creativity: When employees feel safe to take risks and share ideas, a culture of innovation thrives. This can lead to the development of new products, services, and solutions that drive competitive advantage.

Customer Satisfaction: A customer-centric culture emphasises empathy, responsiveness, and delivering exceptional service. This translates to higher customer satisfaction, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Decision-Making and Problem-Solving: A culture of open communication and collaboration allows for diverse perspectives to be heard. This leads to better-informed decisions and more effective problem-solving.

Talent Acquisition and Retention: A strong company culture attracts top talent and helps retain valuable employees. When people enjoy the work environment, colleagues, and company values, they are more likely to stay and contribute.

Building a Culture that Delivers Results

We drew the trajectory of what we needed to achieve... so everybody could see the journey. And I think that’s really important, because having a strategy is one thing, but people believing in the journey and setting off on it and thinking ‘I’m setting sail here to a target I can achieve’ and here’s how you can achieve it year-on-year.” - Charlie Blakemore, CEO, Intercity

Cultivating a positive and impactful culture requires a conscious effort from leadership. Here are some key strategies:

Define Core Values: Articulate the foundational values that guide your company's behaviour and decision-making. Ensure these values are clearly communicated and understood by everyone.

Lead by Example: Leaders play a crucial role in modelling the desired culture. Their actions, behaviours, and communication style set the tone for the entire organisation.

Empower Employees: Give employees ownership and autonomy in their work. Foster a culture of trust and encourage healthy risk-taking.

Promote Open Communication: Create channels for open and honest communication across all levels of the organisation. This allows for feedback, idea exchange, and a sense of community.

Recognise and Reward Desired Behaviours: Acknowledge and reward employees who exemplify your company's values and contribute positively to the culture.

Invest in Learning and Development: Provide opportunities for employees to learn and grow, both professionally and personally. This creates a sense of investment in their wellbeing and future within the company.

Measure and Monitor Culture: Regularly assess your company's culture through employee surveys, focus groups, and feedback sessions. Use this data to identify areas for improvement and adjust as needed.

Remember, culture is not static. It's a continuous journey that requires ongoing commitment and adaptation.

Addressing a Toxic Culture – Radical Candour

That’s a key component of radical candour; it doesn’t matter what your intention is as the person giving the feedback, it’s how it lands with the other person. And sometimes that needs to be gentler, and sometimes you need to hit it home a little bit harder. It depends on the circumstance, it depends on the person.” – Michael Lambe, Managing Director, Lambe Construction

A negative culture can have detrimental effects on employee morale, productivity, and business performance. In instances where this is apparent, managers and leaders need to be able to address the issues in a firm yet positive manner by creating a culture where feedback can be given and received without aggression, accusation, or fear of punishment.

In today's workplace, navigating feedback can be tricky. Fear of offending colleagues or protecting egos often leads to sugar-coated criticism or silence altogether. This is where Radical Candor, a communication framework, steps in. It proposes a way to deliver honest feedback that's both clear and kind.

Radical Candor isn't about brutal honesty. It's about striking a balance between caring personally for the individual you're addressing and challenging them directly to improve.

What the Data Says

According to our data, when it comes to organisational culture, there is work to be done. Leaders need to create open communication channels to find out how their employees are currently feeling about working at the organisation and use this information to find solutions to the lack of connection that people are currently feeling towards their employer.

When we look at the 8 Factors that make up the Best Companies Methodology, 46% of surveyed organisations saw an average 3% decrease in scores to the My Company factor. This shows that there is a level of disengagement between employees and their organisation.

Furthermore, when we study the responses to the survey statements “I love working for this organisation” and “I would leave tomorrow if I had another job”, these scored 76.1% and 69.82% respectively. However, when we look at the year-on-year data, both have seen their scores drop by 0.25% and 0.35%.

While this may not seem very significant, when we analyse the 48% of organisations that saw a decrease in their Best Companies Index (BCI) score, these two statements saw their average score drop by 3.09% and 3.86% respectively.

From this data, we can see that over the last 12 months there has been growing disconnect between employees and their employers. As such, it is vital that leaders of these organisations focus their efforts on reviewing their culture and realigning it with the beliefs and values of their people.

What the Experts Say

During our latest Best Companies Live event in March, organisational leaders came together to discuss a variety of topics, including the importance that culture has on delivering business results.  

One of the themes that was discussed was that to build a culture that gets the most out of your people, you need to have their input and properly listen to them, no matter how small or insignificant their point may seem to you at the time. Claire Webb, Executive Chair at Advanced Supply Chain, stated, “It’s the small things that matter. We’ve talked about putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes, and it’s not about what you think’s important, it’s about what’s important to them”.

Another important talking point was the idea that for your culture to have a real impact, organisations need to ensure that employees are motivated in the correct way to reinforce when they have performed in a way that epitomises the culture you are trying to cultivate. Mark Adlestone OBE, Chairman at Beaverbrooks, said, “If we go right back to Herzberg’s theory of motivation, money is a satisfier, it’s not more than that, and if it’s wrong it can be a dissatisfier. So, there has to be an intrinsic feeling of achievement from the individual who’s delivered that amazing, world-class customer service. And they have to be recognised for that”.

Managing Director of Lambe Construction, Michael Lambe, on the other hand, made a strong case for the importance of Radical Candour, and how open and honest communication can be impactful in both work and home life. “One of our project managers pulled me aside and said... what a difference radical candour had made to him. He said he brought it back to his team on site and it had improved how they were communicating and how they were performing as a unit. But the bigger impact had been at home with his son, and it had totally changed what had been a difficult relationship with his son... if the tools that we are giving people have an impact at home, that enables them to bring more of themselves to work and to have a bigger impact at work.” 

All of the expert red chair guests agreed on one thing however, that by creating a culture where your people can thrive, your organisation will do so too. As Charlie Blakemore, CEO at Intercity, said, “99.99% of colleagues go to work wanting to do a great job. If you give them the environment, the support, the encouragement, the confidence, the tools to do the job, everybody normally wants to go and do it”.

What Next?

It’s never too early to start thinking about the culture at your organisation: what works? What can be improved?

As well as the Best Companies survey, which provides in-depth and honest data into how your people really feel about working at your organisation, we have free downloadable assets where you can see how effective your organisation is at providing organisational clarity and building world class teams.

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