Does your organization suffer from: high turnover, lack of trust, low morale, excessive politics, illegal or unethical employee or volunteer conduct? If so, then culture is likely at the heart of the issue. A winning culture cannot only help prevent these conditions, but can also be the catalyst that ignites an organization into truly becoming a “best place to work!”
In today’s environment, organizations need to adapt to changes in technology, market demands, sales and logistic systems, and more. But what does not change are core values – those deep beliefs that help define an individual’s character and an organization’s culture. Values form the bedrock foundation for driving behaviors, business strategies, and decisions at all levels. In the words of management guru Peter Drucker “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
I offer the following keys to establishing a winning culture in your organization.
- Establish a corporate set of core values. If you don’t have them – develop them. It is that simple. If you do have them, reassess them to ensure they truly represent what is most important to your organization. The values chosen must highlight being a champion for doing the right thing and taking care of people.
- Communicate the values. The values need to be communicated by the leadership over and over again until everyone gets it. The executive leadership team needs to be absolutely committed to the values, demonstrating this commitment through words and deeds.
- Hire people who fit your values. How costly is it to hire the wrong person? Jim Collins, in his best selling book Good to Great, highlights one of the most important elements that enables companies to achieve sustained greatness: “get the right people on the bus.” Invest the resources – time, money, energy – to determine if a candidate fits with your values.
- Enhance employee sense of ownership. In addition to living the values, a winning culture exists when employees feel a sense of ownership of the company. This ownership is derived from opportunities that enable employees to know their leaders, to being informed on the success of the company, to know who their customers are, and future plans for the company. Enhancing the feeling of ownership builds unity – a trait found in every great company.
- Assess employee passion and satisfaction – and act on results. The attitude of employees drives how they approach work. Do employees believe that the leadership genuinely cares about them? Are people treated with respect? Are employees informed of their contribution to the mission? Do opportunities exist to learn and grow? Do people feel appreciated for their work? Employee satisfaction assessments and engagement by the leadership are important ways to determine answers to the above questions. Actions taken to address the challenges build trust – one of the most important elements in establishing a winning culture.
Developing a winning culture does not happen overnight – it takes time and deliberate effort, especially by the leadership. Sam Walton, the original owner of Walmart, hired Don Soderquist in 1988 to be his COO and “keeper of the culture.” Don highlighted the reason Walmart continued to reach unprecedented levels of success long after the passing of Mr. Walton was the winning culture that was instituted and kept alive.
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