Positive Proof that Culture Works

Group of co-workers standing in office space smiling (I’m a culture geek. I’m bold with leaders, telling them they’re leaving money on the table if their team or department or company culture isn’t based on trust, respect, and dignity.

My ideas are not always embraced with open arms! There is a natural cynicism about culture change. Leaders are used to dealing with facts and hard data. So, I share the facts and hard data about the benefits my culture clients have enjoyed.

One client came to us because of low employee engagement survey scores. They scored 32 out of 100 possible points, the worst score of the eight business units owned by their corporate parent. This plant’s senior leadership team embraced our culture process fully and promptly.

They defined values with observable behaviors so everyone – leaders and employees – understood what the rules were for effective daily interactions. They increased performance accountability across their production lines. They measured how well leaders lived the organization’s new valued behaviors. They praised leaders who modeled their values, coached leaders who struggled, and redirected leaders who didn’t model or manage to the new values.

Within six months, conflicts, absenteeism, re-work, and grievances dropped by 60 percent. Within twelve months, efficiency had improved by over 40 percent. Customers reported amazement at the “new service attitude” that company staff displayed.

When the next “all company” employee engagement survey came around twelve months later, their plant scored 62 out of 100 points! Theirs was the biggest gain in engagement scores of any of business unit in their company system. And, their plant earned the top score across the organization.

At the eighteen-month mark, employee engagement had grown 45 percent, customer service rankings had grown 45 percent, and hard dollar profits gains surpassed 35 percent.

Plant leaders gave all the credit to every leader and employee’s alignment to their organizational constitution.

Another client, a seven-state region of a large retailer, embraced our culture change process because the new senior leader’s vision wasn’t taking hold fast enough.

Joel, the region’s senior leader, believed and preached “People with Passion drive Performance!” Joel’s messaging and coaching in his first 18 months in the position helped some store managers “get it.” However, most store managers did not.

Twelve months after creating their organizational constitution and managing to it (with our guidance), Joel’s region enjoyed 40 percent gains in employee engagement, 40 percent gains in customer service, and 30 percent gains in profits.

Another client, a manufacturing plant in the Midwestern USA, discovered a fabulous peripheral benefit to their organizational constitution. Their small town suffered flash flooding one spring, which caused tremendous damage in their community. Families were evacuated with little time to gather necessities.

Within hours, plant employees banded together to provide food, clothing, and transportation for their neighbors. They volunteered hundreds of hours for the Red Cross at the evacuation center. They secured funds from the plant’s parent company to rebuild homes and businesses in the following months.

The plant manager said in the 40 years that plant had been operating in that town, no one had ever seen employees rally so quickly and confidently to serve their fellow community members. Some of the employees who volunteered to help had also suffered significant losses in the flooding. “Our values and behaviors didn’t just apply inside the plant. These employees made sure they applied in our town, too,” she said.

The reality is that your culture drives everything that happens in your organization, good or bad. If you’re only paying attention to results, you’re leaving money on the table.

My latest book, The Culture Engine, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

How healthy is your team or company culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Photo © Monkey Business – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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