Q&A with Directing Growth’s Dom Meli
In his role as AICD’s People and Culture Facilitator, Dom was recently interviewed about the role of culture in growing a business.
Why are a positive culture and engaged workforce critical to business success?
A lot of research has been done in this area, and what it shows is that there is a direct correlation between how engaged your employees are, how hard and effectively they work, and in turn, with how successful the business is.
In a study authored by Tom Peters, it shows that 65 per cent of the variance of a business’ success depends on its people – how aligned and engaged they are with the business’ purpose and how capable they are to deliver on the value promise of the business. The remaining 35 per cent comes down to the business’ strategies, systems and processes.
You can have the best systems in the world, but they will not be effective if they are used by people that are not engaged or aligned with your business’ purpose or if an organisation lacks a healthy culture. As we always say, a good culture overcomes broken processes.
It is also worth mentioning that all organisations list business growth as a key goal and the number one mid- to long-term growth strategy available to any business is investing in its people because ultimately, they are the ones who execute an organisation’s strategic plan and deliver value to its customers.
What are some of the key steps to reassessing and successfully implementing a positive organisational culture?
The first and most important step for any organisation is for the business to define its purpose. Businesses that flourish during difficult times are the ones that are unified behind a single, clearly understood purpose.
The second step is to use a robust methodology to define behaviours which correlate with performance and more likely to lead to success for the organisation.
And the third step is making sure that everyone understands these behaviours. It’s about systematising those behaviours that help your business to be successful. Make sure your workforce has these behaviours embedded and that everyone has embraced them. Everyone – no matter how junior – should understand how their role is vital to the success of the business. This is the role of leaders; ensuring that everyone understands that their effort is critical.
What are some of the common mistakes that you see business leaders make when it comes to culture?
The top 5 most common mistakes leaders make when it comes to culture include:
1. Pronouncing slogans instead of defining behaviours
Defining your culture is not a marketing exercise because culture determines what people do and how they do it. It requires business leaders to articulate the behaviours they are willing to accept in the organisation, and those that they will not. Importantly, these need to be embedded if leaders hope to cultivate a positive culture.
2. Failure to measure and reward desired behaviours that are correlated with performance
All too often businesses will measure and reward the wrong behaviours. Consider your organisation’s purpose, where you are now, and what you want to achieve in the next 2, 5 or 10 years and make sure this is aligned with business metrics and rewards. What gets measured and rewarded gets done.
3. Not having an employee engagement plan
While many businesses have a plan to maintain their systems and capital, many do not have a plan or a ‘road map’ to increase the engagement of their staff. By not having a plan to increase engagement, businesses are effectively leaving 65 per cent of their business success to chance. This is because there is a direct correlation between engagement, effort and performance.
4. Not enough time spent on making people feel valued
A very simple way for leaders to make their employees feel valued is to walk around and ask employees what they think. Ask people what they do and how they can contribute more to the organisation. This can make a huge difference. The more people feel valued, the more valuable their contribution. That’s what engagement is about.
5. Not communicating the direction, vision and purpose of the organisation
Leaders need to cultivate, communicate and champion a single unifying purpose that directs everyone’s efforts. This should be the lens through which an organisation determines what it does and how it does it.
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