Opinions expressed by australiabusinessblog.com contributors are their own.
With business planning for 2023 underway, business leaders are setting priorities for the next year and beyond. For some, the focus may emphasize productivity or reverse certain benefits, such as flexible work schedules.
A performance-driven culture improves productivity, drives higher profits and happier employees, improves talent retention, and continues a growth cycle. A cornerstone of growth in 2023 should be building or maintaining a performance-driven culture for all companies. Omitting or forgetting culture in 2023 is a mistake as it plays a critical role in business performance.
Related: How to Create a Work Culture That Can Survive Anything
Understand the importance of a performance-oriented culture
A performance-oriented culture enables an organization to succeed and grow. This type of structure is good for the company and for every employee. Not every high-performance culture will look the same, but any organization with a high-performance culture values employees and retains their trust in return.
Workers may come to work partly for a paycheck, but there is evidence that they crave meaning in their work and are more productive when they get it. Like everyone else, employees want to feel a sense of purpose and mission in their daily lives and enjoying the same at work is only natural.
The best cultures embed their mission throughout the employee experience, honoring and promoting these values every day. These cultures also provide their employees with interesting and engaging projects that reinforce their sense of belonging to the organization. A recent study by McKinsey showed that employees of all income levels considered having an interesting job just as important as earning a steady income.
Related: How to develop a company vision and values that employees can relate to
Employees feel fulfilled by purposeful work. Unfortunately, many employers ignore culture and focus on profit. Employees need clarification and connection in these types of work environments. In a survey of Gallup, only four in ten employees strongly agreed that they knew what their company stands for and what sets them apart from competitors. Even for organizations that articulate their values frequently, management can be viewed poorly if employees fail to see the connection between the values and the organization’s actions.
When leaders become nervous about the future of their company, it can be tempting to ignore culture at the expense of profits. In times of economic uncertainty, culture becomes even more important. At these times, employees will look to management to set the tone. Without a culture that fosters engagement and collaboration, employees could lose productivity due to stress and conflict.
Related: Why Purposeful Entrepreneurs Focus on the Bigger Picture
How to build a performance-driven culture
To build a powerful culture, you must first understand how your culture functions. Employees usually understand the culture best simply by assessing their own level of satisfaction. Their day-to-day experiences tend to be dictated more by peers and first-line managers than by the company’s management. Leaders who don’t work with frontline managers on a daily basis will likely need to talk to employees to understand their experiences.
Signs of a low-performing culture can include low retention, low productivity, and frequent conflicts in the workplace. Not every employee will be satisfied, even in the highest performing cultures, but consistently dissatisfied employees reflect serious problems. Direct, private conversations between employees and HR can provide insight. If employees are hesitant to speak candidly, much-needed feedback through surveys can provide ways to track improvements.
After gathering information about employee experiences, HR may want to prepare a report assessing the current culture. Strong cultures must clearly understand what policies contribute to the culture and how to continue it. Doing so will help preserve civilization in the face of future business difficulties or leadership changes.
On the other hand, struggling cultures need to identify the most negative factors of their culture in order to start changing. Powerful cultures are characterized by strong leaders, actively engaged employees, continuous workforce development, strong communication and adaptability. If employees are not engaged, consider whether an unbalanced workload, micromanagement, lack of flexibility or lack of trust could contribute.
During this process, employees also feel that their input is genuinely welcome, and it should be. Psychologically, employees accustomed to a toxic culture may be afraid to express their true thoughts, especially if their first-line managers have previously committed verbal abuse or insults. Build this trust by taking responsibility for admitting culture doesn’t meet requirements and protect employees who raise concerns from retaliation.
Every level of leadership, from the C-suite to first-line managers, plays an integral role in rebuilding corporate culture. The positive vision set out at the top must be actionable. Once the vision has more tangible attributes, each leadership level can provide the necessary training through structure and processes and easily communicate these goals as they translate into the structure of the company.
A performance culture is often seen as optional. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A performance-driven culture is the backbone of an organization and provides a strong framework for business growth. In 2023, culture should be at the heart of any successful business strategy.