Culture Building That Drives Performance

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The following article is posted on behalf of Denise Lee Yohn, Brand Leadership Expert, Speaker, Author and Millennium Alliance Advisory Board member. Check out her most recent book, FUSION: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies. 


Gallup’s Approach to Culture: Building a Culture That Drives Performance resonates with me so much, since I regularly speak about the topic and have written about it in FUSION: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies. Here are some highlights from Gallup’s write-up along with my notes:

“Culture is unique to every organization. Every organization has a unique purpose and brand. Organizations that want to create or sustain a strong culture can only do so by understanding the ways in which purposebrand and culture interact.” – I wholeheartedly agree that your culture can and should be unique. Too many business leaders try to imitate the successful culture-building approaches of others instead of identifying and embracing the unique purpose, values, and cultural practices that their organization needs to establish and maintain to sustain differentiation and competitive advantage.

“Culture creates alignment. Culture makes the difference between engaged teams moving in different directions and engaged, aligned teams working toward a common goal.” – This is why organizations need more than general employee engagement – they need employee brand engagement. That is, your employees need to be aligned and engaged with your unique brand values and your brand strategy overall. You don’t need employees are simply happy and engaged – you need employees who are happy, engaged, and produce the right results.

“Culture is the organization’s GPS, giving its employees routes and pathways for living the organization’s purpose and delivering on its brand promise. But unlike a typical GPS system, culture is not always obvious. It is communicated regularly by what leaders say but even more importantly by what leaders do and the decisions they make.” — In FUSION, I write in the chapter “Lead the Change” about the foundational leadership communication, behaviors, and decisions that shape their organization’s culture – including, most importantly, using your core values to make choices about not only whom to hire, but also whom to fire and promote. Not only does this ensure the right people are on your bus; it also sends a powerful message to your organization about the importance of its values.

“Many organizations maintain structures and processes based on what has been done in the past rather than designing internal structures that bring their purpose to life and offer a competitive product or experience to customers.” — I was so pleased to see a section of Gallup’s POV address the importance of work teams and structures on culture. Many business leaders overlook how influential these fundamental aspects can be on if and how their people work together — and/or they shy away from doing the hard work to align their organizational design and operational processes with their desired culture.

“Culture affects performance. Organizations with a well-defined culture have a competitive advantage in the marketplace and are proven to improve performance outcomes across many measures.” — Yes! Your culture can improve productivity, increase relevance and differentiation, decrease turnover, reduce risk, and more. But to realize these results, you have to deliberately cultivate a culture that supports your brand identity.

Check out Gallup’s write-up here and my book FUSION here.

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