Culture Performance Management is the way to take control of your company culture in a purposeful, positive, and definitive manner. To manage and improve it over the long haul so that it, in turn, supports your business’ mission, vision, and values.
This week we’re wrapping up our three-part series on our Culture Performance Management methodology. In this final installment, we will discuss operationalizing and optimizing your company culture and sustaining continuous cultural improvement across your organization. In other words, how to take the concept of continuous improvement and apply it to your workplace culture. Unfortunately, ‘culture initiatives, as they’re called, are a one-time, stop-gap measure that may yield a temporary improvement in your employee experience but do not carry any substance forward. Shop floor posters, company ‘morale boosting’ events, and the like don’t make a healthy, sustainable company culture.
As an executive or operations leader, especially in manufacturing, you’re probably familiar with continuous improvement or even the term Kaizen. This industrial productivity philosophy combines two Japanese words: ‘kai’ meaning ‘change’ and ‘zen’ meaning ‘good,’ and was first introduced by Toyota in the 1980s as part of their Toyota Production System (TPS). Thousands of companies around the globe have since adopted TPS and Kaizen. This lean approach encourages building an organization dedicated to incremental quality, efficiency, and profitability increases. Culture Performance Management helps you apply this concept of continuous improvement to your company culture.
Culture Performance Management Begins at the Top
But before we dig into part three, let’s briefly take a moment and review the key points from parts one and two of our series on CPM. In part one, we learned that building a healthy and thriving workplace culture begins at the top with leadership. CPM takes the typical bottom-up or shop floor approach and turns it upside down, focusing first on leadership.
We can’t stress this enough. Any improvement will be temporary if your organizational leadership is not consistently trained and developed to embody the values your company culture is built on. The CPM method teaches leaders how to ‘walk the walk’ of your organization’s core values and live them out in their daily interactions and behaviors—to truly lead through actions.
The 7 Pillars of Culture Performance Management
In part two, we discussed the ‘Seven Pillars of Culture Performance Management.’ These seven steps form the foundation of a continuous cultural improvement cycle for your business culture. It begins with the purposeful selection and definition of the values you wish your culture (the bedrock of your employee experience) to convey, connecting those values to specific leadership behaviors and ongoing refinement of the process.
Operationalize, Optimize, and Continuously Improve Culture
In this final part of our Culture Performance Management series, we will discuss how to refine and maintain this cultural improvement cycle over the long haul. You probably already know this: your company culture is as valuable an asset as your brand. It can help you attract and retain top talent, heighten your customers’ satisfaction, and provide a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Consumer choice is increasingly centered around businesses that not only project a vibrant and healthy culture but are known to live it out authentically, in their internal and external actions, from the overall employee experience to their impact on the global environment.
The entire burgeoning ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) movement is already impacting businesses’ access to global markets, capital, and top talent. Building an authentic company culture that is healthy, thriving, and sustainable over the long haul is a large piece of the ‘social’ component of ESG and ultimately increases your competitive advantage. So, let’s start with how to operationalize your culture.
1. Operationalize Your Company Culture
Just like any system or process in your business, behaviors that embody your desired culture are definable, trainable, and sustainable. The seven pillars show how to build that process. To operationalize anything in a production environment means understanding where you are (current state) and knowing where you want to go (desired state).
To see where you currently sit with company culture takes implementing the right measurement tools. For example, understanding whether a production line is performing to desired capacity first takes measuring current performance. Like any journey, you need to define point A before you can plan your route to point B.
You can build a culture measurement, tracking, and reporting system that does this yourself through increased and more specific employee engagement surveys, leadership training, and more. But the way we recommend, of course, is by implementing the only tool we know of that allows you to build your company culture roadmap and provides real-time feedback on your progress: CultureWorx. As with all things business, measuring is the first step to managing. If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. Managing your company culture is no different.
Operationalizing culture means putting into practice the seven pillars of CPM and making them a priority in your organization (starting at the top) with the proper training and discipline that shaped your organization, to begin with.
Just like the production dashboards that provide visibility into the daily KPIs such as capacity, yield, downtime, and more, you must make culture a visible element of your organization. You need daily accountability for your current state, progress, and destination with specific, definable, actionable items.
And ultimately, the system you implement to provide transparency and vision into your company culture must be sustainable and scalable across your enterprise.
2. Optimize Company Culture Through Ownership and Accountability
As we mentioned in part one, ownership and adoption of your culture begins with leadership. Your leadership team is 100 percent responsible for educating and demonstrating your company culture norms and improvements. Without leadership buy-in, you cannot communicate your cultural vision, inherent values, and behaviors across your enterprise.
Ask yourself these key questions: How are the changes in leadership engagement, interactions, and decision-making impacting employee productivity and business results? How do you use that knowledge to move your culture and operation forward?
A focal point should be on increased leadership performance visibility. How are your leaders actively exhibiting the behaviors that align with your company values? How is their embodiment of your desired culture informing and influencing their decision-making, overall level of engagement in the business, and performance? This total transparency is required. Optimizing your company culture is all about practicing acceptable behaviors and fostering understanding that everyone can see.
Optimization aligns with the operational concept of PAVA (Plan, Actual, Variance, Action). We use this framework to understand how an organization is performing (actual) against expected outcomes (plan), what the specific positive or negative inconsistency may be (variance), and concrete steps to improve (action). Applying this process to your company culture, including every one of the seven pillars of CPM, is the embodiment of optimization.
And we can’t stress enough that your frontline leaders should take center stage during the optimization process. They drive company culture. Every interaction they have, how they prioritize and embody cultural standards and work to improve will communicate your organization’s sense of priority and authenticity surrounding cultural performance. Your frontline leaders demonstrate value-based behaviors in action.
3. Continuous Cultural Improvement Builds Sustainability and Value Over the Long Haul
Dr. Donte Vaughn, DM, MSM, and Randall Powers’ recent best-seller on transforming company culture describes continuous cultural improvement (a robust and consistent company culture that drives ideal outcomes) as requiring “hard deliberate work on a continuous basis. It requires all leaders to adopt and apply a strong understanding of values, from the shop floor to the C-suite.”
Like anything you want to change, you must work at it purposefully and consistently. For large-scale organizations to foster improvement, it requires consistent adoption at all levels. The objective is perpetual optimization. Take the optimization steps, train on them, and repeat them until they are ingrained and habitual across your organization. It never ends, like a great workout routine, only adjusting as your body responds.
Beyond the requisite ‘hard work,’ continuous cultural improvement requires transformational leadership. Bernard Bass, an industrial psychologist, describes transformational leadership as idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration. Business leaders that want to transform and sustain a company culture that is ‘always improving’ must look at how they influence communication, change, and outcomes in their business.
Ultimately, Your Company Culture is One of Your Organization’s Most Valuable Assets
Company culture is at the forefront of the business world today. For example, we hear about life at Apple, Amazon, and Google through social media almost daily. This news impacts buying decisions. Your culture, leadership, how you treat your people, how connected and appreciated they feel, the day-to-day effectiveness of your managers, and the high-level vision of your business are all out there for the world to see.
In this way, all aspects of your culture are used in decisions that will impact your success with financiers, suppliers, and customers. From Wall Street to Main Street, as they say. As a result, your authentic culture is under the microscope like never before. And with the advent of ESG, culture will continue to be a global driver of business success.
Culture Performance Management is the way to take control of your company culture in a purposeful, positive, and definitive manner. To manage and improve it over the long haul so that it, in turn, supports your business’ mission, vision, and values and underpins your competitive advantage. Culture Performance Management is the way to lead on culture—to be proactive and purposeful in building and sustaining the long-term vision of your business.
The POWERS Difference
POWERS is a management consulting firm whose proven Culture Performance Management™ methodology connects the dots between optimized company culture and desired operational performance outcomes.
Our team has helped executive leadership across many industry verticals operationalize their culture for rapid and sustained performance improvement, increased competitive advantage, greater value, and a stronger bottom line.
To put our experienced team and proven track record to work for you, schedule an initial discovery and analysis by calling +1 678-971-4711, or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.