Bob Schultek

Bob Schultek

Bill can’t understand why his people are discouraged and frustrated. After a couple of slow years, the company is busy again so there’s plenty of work. No fairness or compensation issues have been raised. He is keeping everyone aware of their progress and communicating his expectation that goals must be achieved to accelerate their progress. So why do many in the company seem so negative?

Peter Drucker and other gurus have been credited with saying:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Drucker explains that “…a great strategy without a compelling purpose is like a beautiful highway that doesn’t lead anywhere that people want to go.”

James Heskett of Harvard Business School states that:

“Culture can account for up to half of the difference in operating profit between two organizations in the same business. Shaping a culture is one of a leader’s most important jobs; it can be ignored, but only for so long and at one’s peril.”

Bill has lost touch with his people. While juggling multiple priorities and struggling through tough times, he ignored the need to foster his company’s culture while he was rebuilding the business. His employees are feeling increasingly disconnected and de-energized just when he needs everyone to work harder.

Most of your employees want to understand how their work contributes to the success of your business. They want to get more engaged with your business, to help your company fulfill its purpose. They need a clear understanding about the larger purpose of your business and the behaviors you expect from them beyond “…just do your job.” They want to add value to your company – and gain recognition for doing so. They need to see that leadership respects and operates in accordance with your expected behaviors.

Your company’s culture is characterized by how consistently your personnel demonstrate expected behaviors or Core Principles. Your Principles sustain the direction of the organization, and the decision-making within it, during good times and bad. Behavioral consistency influences how your customers, employees and stakeholders come to perceive your business.

Many companies ignore the need for Core Principles to define company culture. Organizations that have Principles proclaiming valued words or phrases often leave them largely undefined. Few companies take the critical step of specifying expected behaviors for each Principle. What behavior is expected by “initiative,” “teamwork” or “customer satisfaction?” A core Principle for “Customer Satisfaction” could include a specified response time behavior like “Respond within a maximum of 4 hours after inquiry receipt.” With this metric, an employee’s “customer satisfaction” behavior may be measured versus your expected level by grading how consistently that person’s behavior falls above or below your specified expectation.

Employees who share a clear, common understanding of your expected behaviors and how those behaviors are consistently measured, learn precisely how their work is valued. Your company’s performance improves when your people feel engaged and appreciated.

 How do you ensure that your people learn your culture and expected behaviors?

How do you evaluate the consistency of employee behavior versus your expectations?