5 Key Drivers of High Performing Cultures

In simple terms, organizational culture is simply ‘the way we do things around here’. Culture is an integral part of the DNA of a company and makes the organization purposeful. It helps in delivering outcomes towards the business strategy by determining employee behavior and how work gets done in the organization. It may or may not eat strategy for breakfast, but certainly helps in building a phenomenal workforce experience (Wx).

Stories about organization culture, especially in the formative years often define how organizations are perceived. For example, Jeff Bezos starting Amazon in a garage and using a chopped-up door as a desk still defines Amazon’s focus on frugality. The vision and values, valued behaviors and how an organization recognizes people who display the right behaviors add up to the culture of the organization.

Netflix’s manual of culture is a viral document because of its simplicity and focus on adding value to people’s lives, instead of being a book written in legal jargon. Zappos prides itself on being a customer service company that also sells shoes.

A people-centric culture functions as a reward element in itself, and companies such as GE pride themselves on being able to attract the best talent despite paying only at the market median, because of their best-in-class cultural aspects.

A great culture that serves as a talent magnet has a number of tenets:

1. Psychological safety:

People can take risks and step outside their comfort zones without fear of negative consequences. They can be vulnerable with each other and bring their whole selves to work. Accenture’s ‘Truly Human’ program works towards helping bring their best selves to work by making them feel included and valued.

2. Empowerment & Innovation:

Providing autonomy to people and just getting out of their way to help them innovate works wonders. Micromanagement is never a key feature of great cultures. Google’s Innovation Time Out (ITO) model encourages people to spend one day a week on innovative projects, which keeps people energized and also translates into marketable innovation for the company.

3. Customer-focus:

Focus on creating value for customers inspires people to join workplaces. Achievers don’t really appreciate working at companies that shortchange their customers or lack respect towards them. Adobe’s laser-sharp focus on employee experience and taking the same to customers is well-known and has helped them pivot to a completely cloud-based portfolio of solutions

4. Recognition:

Great cultures thrive by ensuring that people are recognized and rewarded for their efforts and results. Zappos cultivates a great culture through innovative but meaningful recognition strategies such as coveted parking spots for great performers.

5. Community contribution:

People love working at companies that look beyond balance sheets and income statements to meaningfully contribute to the community and build a better world. Companies such as Deloitte and Accenture encourage people to participate in long-term skill development and vocational training efforts to increase the employability of talent.

Building a great culture is not an overnight journey. It takes time and focus but is worth much more than the investment. That is why companies are realizing the importance of culture as a valuable recruitment tool as well as an aspect that has ‘monetary value’ to people.

About the Author

Sam Reeve

Sam is the CEO and founder of CompTeam.

His core focus is leading companies through transformational change by optimizing talent initiatives with reward programs to achieve long-term strategic objectives.

Sam’s diverse experience includes the design and optimization of performance-driven variable compensation plans for executive, sales, and core employee populations of growing companies.

Prior to founding CompTeam, Sam has worked in compensation functions of notable firms such as BlackRock,  McKesson, and Automatic Data Processing (ADP).

Sam is a global certified compensation consultant (CCP, GRP) with over 20 years of experience in Total Reward Strategies.

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