In this climate of uncertainty, we all understand the need to prioritize company culture more than ever. The way that we conduct business continues to rapidly change, but the tenets of a strong company culture remain the same.
In researching and writing my new book, The Culture Quotient: Ten Dimensions of a High-Performance Culture, I used the data collected and lessons learned helping more than 1,000 companies and millions of employees strengthen their companies’ cultures. After synthesizing this information over the past seven years, here are the 10 dimensions common to achieving a high-performance company culture and tips to help business leaders during these unprecedented times.
Mission and Value Alignment: In a company with mission and value aligned, people know, understand and believe in the company’s mission and values.
- Regularly reassess your company core values by reviewing them with your leadership team and surveying your employees.
- Train your team on making values-based decisions and managers on communicating purpose to their direct reports.
- Create a set of behavior-based interview questions dedicated to determining a candidate’s value alignment.
Communication: In a company with great communication, people can send, receive and understand the necessary information.
- Create a process for leaders to share important business updates — a weekly meeting, a company blog and a roundup newsletter are all options. Whatever you choose, make sure it is equally accessible to all employees.
- Encourage difficult, transparent conversations and train everyone on how to have them.
- Default to overcommunicating. As leaders, it is easy to forget that not everyone operates with the same context and information. If you want people to see a link, explicitly state that link.
Accountability: In a company that values responsibility, people are accountable for their actions and have the independence to make decisions regarding their work.
- Encourage leaders to coach rather than jump in with solutions when supporting their direct reports.
- Create clear decision-making criteria for projects. If there are certain organizational priorities that everyone should consider, share those as well.
- Create a process for recording action items after meetings and in emails.
Agility: A company that is agile can respond and adapt quickly to opportunities.
- Conduct a needs analysis to identify skill assessment gaps and then provide training accordingly.
- Screen for a growth mindset, open mindset and performance mindset during interviews.
- Incorporate the norm of having retrospectives after each project, and train project leads to conduct them.
Work Environment: A company with a great work environment has a comfortable workplace where people have the resources to be effective in their work.
- Implement policies and procedures for employees working remotely.
- Review the tools available for employees working remotely.
- Create a virtual space for people to connect, and set clear expectations for its use. Some examples include a Slack channel or Microsoft Teams, an email thread or an intranet.
- Create a space for employees to step away from their desks. This can be a couch, a lunch table, outdoor space or other alternative workspaces.
Innovation: An innovative company encourages new ideas and can move ideas through the organization.
- Determine a process for sharing challenges and innovation success stories.
- Craft “culture collisions” of ideas and people, such as cross-functional committees, projects and events.
- Set aside an experimentation budget for each team.
Wellness: A company that values wellness has the policies and resources to help people maintain physical and mental health.
- Provide healthy snacks and drinks in a centrally located break room, which will encourage employees to take breaks and interact with colleagues.
- Incorporate daily breaks and vacation time into performance reviews so that all employees hear the importance of taking breaks and vacations.
- Offer referrals for therapy or counseling, and train managers and HR on directing employees to those resources.
Performance Orientation: In a performance-focused company, people know what determines success in their roles, and they are recognized and rewarded for achievements.
- Make sure that employees know their current goals, their team’s goals, and the company’s goals.
- Ensure individuals know how they are performing relative to their goals.
- Confirm employees understand how the company is performing relative to its goals.
- Train employees of all levels on giving and receiving feedback.
Collaboration: In a collaborative company, people cooperate, share and work well together.
- If you have multiple office locations and employees working from home, find creative ways for employees at all locations to interact.
- Encourage teams to create team values and team purpose.
- Share collaboration success stories during company meetings.
- Invest in technologies that help employees work together and provide visibility to what others are working on, regardless of their location.
Leadership: In a company with great leadership, people provide each other with the resources and guidance they need to be successful and are confident in senior leaders.
- Create a “lunch with a leader” program in which employees from all levels of the organization have opportunities to spend time with senior leaders.
- Train managers in key leadership skills so that they can engage, develop and retain their direct reports.
- Require weekly or biweekly one-on-one meetings between managers and direct reports.
- Perform a role modeling audit as a leadership team: List your values and organizational expectations. Create a system to hold each other accountable for giving feedback and modeling accordingly.
Especially in these challenging and uncertain times, a high-performance company culture is necessary to achieve superior results — high financial returns, positive customer ratings and the ability to recruit and retain the very best talent. In other words, a strong company culture leads to a high-performance organization.