Is Your Company Culture All In?

Recognition experts Adrain Gostick & Chester Elton have pivoted from recognition to culture with their new book, All In: How The Best Managers Create A Culture Of Belief and Drive Big Results. And well they should, as today, culture is more important to your company than ever. 

Why? Transparency, the cloud and a new generation that needs a dollup of purpose with their paycheck.  Bad cultures are now a matter of JobVent record.  With the cloud, startups spring up like weeds, requiring less capital than ever.  The Millenials will bail on a bad boss, a negative group or a company they-just-don’t-get. 

Think of your company culture as the operating system of the entire group.  It focuses human energy towards specific programs, gives and enforces commands and makes necessary connections or deletions.  In Gostick and Elton’s view there are effective cultures and disfunctional ones.  The effective ones satisfy the customer, the talent and usually the owners.  The bad ones cause the company to sputter or shutter through ineptitude, inconsistency and negative behavior.

They decided to write the book after repeated requests by their clients to address it in their consulting work.  In working with several companies, they quickly realized that culture was one of the most important areas a CEO needed to focus on.  Bad culture = inconsistent results for everyone involved. 

So, they commissioned a massive study (300k people) with Towers Perin and validated some assumptions and uncovered 7 areas of excellence that every manager or leader could learn from. The first idea: Define Your Burning Platform is a winner in my view.  Too many managers forget about this.  Why are we doing this?

Get the why right and the group comes together organically.  Humans rally around a shared vision of value.  You can connect with what the company is doing for the world (Delivering Happiness or Mission Zero).  You can connect with what you are doing to respond to your competition (Steve Jobs loved this one).  You can even connect with what your group is doing to respond to a company edict or challenge (eg., the Don Ostler story from my 3rd book.) 

The point of this chapter is that the foundation of widespread belief is a sense of purpose.  Making money isn’t enough, you must trigger a Maslovian need: Pride, Survival, Actualization.  

Pick up the book, spend a few hours learning about how to innovate your culture at work.  This is an important topic and I hope it takes market share away from the Leadership Category (which I find oversubscribed these days…a subject of next week’s post here.)