Was there a time in your life when you hated to go to work? The business culture was uncomfortable. Rather than finding your work and association with colleagues engaging, you were looking for the way out.
A few years ago the co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey and global business professor-founder Raj Sisodia released a study on the performance of companies that sought to work for values, not just profit.
In that study 28 companies labeled as practicing “conscious capitalism”, outperformed the S&P 500 by 14 times during the period from 1998 – 2012. Is there a message here today about culture?
Brad Brezinski, Founder and Chief Strategist at Strategy2Action, shared with me a personal experience and a definitive series of steps leaders should take to shape or turn around its business culture.
See if you agree with Brad’s recommendation. Because culture can have a significant impact on business performance, they’re worth noting.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM BRAD BREZINSKI, FOUNDER & CHIEF STRATEGIST – STRATEGY TO ACTION
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF COMPANIES THAT HAVE A STRONG BUSINESS CULTURE? (2:27in)
In Brad’s words – An organization that communicates better, that’s going to innovate better, they’re going to problem solve better, and they’re probably going to have lower turnover.
Insight – Ask the question, how engaged are my employees? Chances are that if they are fully engaged, they have a clear understanding of the charge given by leadership.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE CEO IN SHAPING THE CULTURE? (3:50 in)
In Brad’s words – Ultimately the CEO has full responsibility for the culture. The exhibited values of the leadership team are what shape the behavioral norms, are what shape the decisions that guide the culture.
Insight – Think about your decision making processes, how decisions are made, who makes them, who is recognized for the decisions made and how are people held responsible for decisions.
HOW IMPORTANT IS CULTURE TO A START UP COMPANY? (6:57 in)
In Brad’s words – Don’t think in terms of culture, think in terms of your values. Roy Disney said when your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easy.
Insight – In hiring, make sure that your values, the values you want the organization to hold and those of the people you’re seeking to hire are aligned.
WHAT UNDERMINES BUSINESS CULTURE? (8:56 in)
In Brad’s words – The first one is hollow values. These one word ideas (in wall art displaying the word – teamwork, for example) that no one can wrap their hands around. The second quite simply is weak leadership. It’s the responsibility of leadership to exhibit (values) day in and day out.
Insight – Back up values with actions and behaviors that are applied daily.
HOW HARD IS IT TO TURN AROUND THE CULTURE OF AN ORGANIZATION? (13:52 in)
In Brad’s words – I don’t think it’s hard if leadership will commit to doing it. The pace of change is four levers – articulate, communicate, demonstrate, and tolerate.
Insight – Articulate the kind of culture you want. Communicate this to everyone in your organization. Walk the talk. Don’t tolerate actions at any level of the organization that are inconsistent with the culture and values you’re working to establish.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF IN A MERGER OF TWO CULTURES? (20:10 in)
In Brad’s words – You can’t really assess culture but you can articulate the values. Then you’re looking for what values are incongruent with one another.
Insight – Determine if the values of both companies are aligned or not as it relates to its handling of employees, how it treats customers, what is its risk tolerance, etc.