HOW DO YOU GET BEST THE BEST FROM YOUR TEAM IN TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT, PERFORMANCE AND PROFIT IN A VUCA* ENVIRONMENT?
DOES CULTURE TRUMP STRATEGY IN TERMS OF IMPACT?
*VOLATILITY, UNCERTAINTY, COMPLEXITY AND AMBIGUITY
CLEVER STRATEGY, SUPERIOR PRODUCTS, better people, corporate agility, will all separate highest performing organisations from the rest only if built on something fundamental that enables a competitive advantage to sustain and grow over time… culture.
Culture starts with what people do and how they do it. In any industry, what people do may not differ dramatically, but high-performing organisations distinguish themselves in how they do it. This cumulative effect of what is done and how it is done ultimately determines an organisation’s performance.
Culture also encompasses why people do what they do. As the Titanic’s captain grasped a little too late on that fateful night in 1912, 90 percent of an iceberg’s mass lies beneath the surface. Culture is similar as it includes observable behaviors (the what and how, above the surface) as well as everything underneath – the shared mindsets and beliefs that influence how people in an organisation behave. Just like a captain navigating frigid waters, anyone trying to understand an organisation’s culture must recognise that most of what matters cannot be readily seen.
Thus, culture is the common set of behaviours and underlying mindsets and beliefs that shape how people work and interact day-to-day.
WHY CULTURE MATTERS IT CORRELATES WITH PERFORMANCE
Based on our research of over 1,000 organisations that encompass more than three million individuals, those with top quartile cultures (as measured by our Organizational Health Index) post a return to shareholders 60 percent higher than median companies and 200 percent higher than those in the bottom quartile.
IT IS DIFFICULT TO COPY
The quickening pace of innovation means that products and business models face the constant threat of being replicated. In this environment, the ultimate competitive advantage is a healthy culture that adapts automatically to changing conditions to find new ways to succeed.
IT ENABLE ORGANISATIONS TO ADAPT
In a world where the one constant is change, culture becomes even more important because organisations with
high-performing cultures thrive on change. The converse also holds true: Unhealthy cultures do not respond well to change. Research shows that 70 percent of transformations fail, and 70 percent of those failures are due to culture-related issues.
UNHEALTHY CULTURES LEAD TO UNDERPERFORMANCE
Over time, not only do unhealthy cultures foster lackluster performance, but they can be your undoing. Daily headlines attest, culture can bring corporate giants to their knees.
How to create healthier and higherperforming cultures – is therefore worth exploring as it can make the difference between profit and loss. Take the lead from sports like athletics, cycling or team sports like Rugby. Teams that do the basics well excel when the pressure is on. They are able to come together, default to a pattern of consistent behaviours and play that works for them, they know they can deliver and it’s a strategy that pays off in the long run.
Sports teams also talk all the time about the 1% effect. The 1% effect is the cumulative effect of making a 1% difference in multiple areas adds up. Take Formula One for example. A 1% weight saving can make 0.1 second difference in lap times. Each mechanic working 1% faster can make a 10% difference in pit stops. The UK cycling team adopted a 1% mindset prior to the 2012 London Olympics resulting in their most successful games ever.
The best and most consistent sports team in the world are the New Zealand All Blacks. They talk about their culture and their code almost like their DNA. They have a default position and inner strength, plus they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can support each other at any time.
In a work environment you need organisational agility and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing fluid market, business situation, and/or shift in macroeconomic sentiment in the political world.
The main problem in business is that we only measure what we can see, ie: Results, profit and income. If you are lucky, you may be looking or vaguely aware of, leadership and team behaviours and the impact on performance.
These are NOT your values. Values are suggested but not implicit and the way your team and company act out those values are behaviours.
HOW DO YOU DRIVE BEHAVIOURS?
You need to look under the surface at what you cannot see. We now know, via the latest research at Harvard Medical School and via applied neuroscience, that individual and team behaviours are led and influenced by how you think and feel, your emotions, and even your physiology.
If you want a great team and company, you need highly functioning human beings, like corporate athletes. If you don’t fuel them, train them, or help them to rest and recover, you will have a substandard, disengaged, unmotivated group of individuals, not functioning as a team, and no corporate culture – and it’s not about gym membership and bowls of fruit or yoga classes.
Matthew Lewis is a Dubai based executive search expert, and a Partner with Boyden. He is a certified CEO and leadership coach and a 25-year student of leaders, leadership, human behavior and executive performance and is conducting his PhD research in the field of applied neuroscience and its impact on leadership performance.