Highlights of history
- The most useful definitions of culture are simple and actionable
- There is often a gap between the ideal and actual culture of the company
- Crops must be clearly defined, quantified and managed intentionally
This article is the first in a two-part series.
According to Gallup, only 23% of U.S. employees Strongly Agree that they can apply their organization’s values to their work every day, and only 27% Strongly Agree that they “believe in” the values of their organization.
These findings should be alarming for managers, as they raise fundamental questions about whether workers adhere to their company’s values and culture – or which leaders to say the values and culture of their company are.
Gaps between the desired culture and the actual culture
Part of the problem is that “organizational culture” is not easy to define. It has been defined in multiple ways, from broad descriptions of employee behavior to academic philosophies and perspectives.
Gallup has found that the most useful definitions of culture are simple and actionable. We define culture as how employees interact and how work is done. Our research also shows that the way work is done varies from company to company – and this variation affects organizational performance.
Unfortunately, our research also shows that in many organizations there are gaps between the desired culture – the one that leaders envision and strive to achieve – and the culture that employees experience.
These gaps create inconsistency and confusion for employees and customers. Top performing companies identify these gaps and implement strategies, systems and processes that reduce them, taking actions that gradually move the company closer to its desired culture.
Culture can be a tremendous driver of performance. But when a business grapples with gaps between the desired culture and the actual culture, it prevents it from meeting performance goals and meeting customer needs.
Too often, leaders carefully select the values that define their ideal culture, but those values fail to resonate with employees and influence the way work is done. With so few employees convinced that they can apply their company values to their daily work or believing in their company values, most companies need to strengthen their culture and bring their values to life.
Link culture to organizational identity
The top-performing companies Gallup studied don’t see culture as a stand-alone initiative or program; instead, they take a holistic, integrated approach to creating and sustaining it. By approaching culture as a way to bring the purpose of the company to life – and to create a brand that uniquely meets the needs of customers – these companies are not only creating cultures worthy of study – they are building a strategic basis for exceptional performance.
Therefore, Gallup also sees culture as part of a larger dynamic called organizational identity. Culture alone is devoid of impact – and potentially destructive to progress – if employees move in different directions because leaders do not tie culture to the purpose and brand of the company, strategically managing these elements. tandem.
Leaders can have a powerful view of their company’s culture, but if they fail to measure and align the culture with the goal and the brand, the result will be a fragmented message and poor performance.
Companies with a strong culture make strengthening this culture a constant priority. Using data and analytics, they move culture from words to action and performance. They create messages that communicate the desired culture to employees; they support programs that recognize employees whose work supports the desired culture; and they align their performance management systems with their cultural aspirations.
Most importantly, these companies regularly measure and manage the strength of their goal and brand to ensure that the three elements – goal, brand and culture – working together to create a strong and unique identity.
To change their culture from this is to what could be, leaders need to ensure that culture is:
Clearly defined, communicated and managed as an extension of the purpose and the brand.
Quantified. Once leaders have defined the desired culture, they need to know if the company is successful in bringing that culture to life. Quantitative metrics allow leaders to track progress over time and link culture to relevant business results.
Managed intentionally. Companies must deliberately manage and review activities and processes to ensure that they communicate messages consistent with the desired culture.
The second article in this series explores the main drivers of organizational identity. It also shows leaders how they can apply these drivers to align employees with the culture the company wants and push the organization towards its ideal identity.