A Company Growth Culture Drives 5 Strategic Benefits
- Company culture can be a strong company differentiator and business growth accelerator.
- A high-performance corporate culture is a sustainable competitive advantage that delivers improved labor productivity, customer engagement and revenue growth.
- For most organizations, it is the single biggest untapped asset to boost staff productivity, employee tenure and company growth.
There are a lot of things the company can do to drive revenue growth. But the one thing that will affect them all is corporate culture. It is a driver of employee productivity, customer engagement and sustained revenue growth.
From corporate culture research and three decades of experience, I'm an advocate of high-performance company cultures, and support my advocacy with 5 high impact benefits.
A Driver of High ROI
For most organizations, company culture is the single biggest under-capitalized asset. Improving that asset will boost staff productivity, employee tenure, customer engagement, revenue growth and company profits.
It's disappointing to see executives put more time and planning into a single project than their corporate ethos. The most common reason for this is they don't fully appreciate the impact and payback.
Fortunately, the research is unequivocal. Dr. John Kotter and Dr. James Heskett of Harvard University measured corporate cultures over an 11-year period. They reported that companies with higher performance cultures achieved an average 516% higher revenues, 246% higher net income growth, 827% higher employment growth and 755% higher stock valuation growth. These are extraordinary results that should not go unnoticed by business leaders seeking financial performance improvements.
These types of performance achievements take time and occur over an evolutionary process. It starts with design of company ideology and identity. Once the ideology advances from declarations to actions and is evidenced in the daily workings, the benefits and payback will occur.
A Sustainable Competitive Advantage
A growth culture is one of only 4 sustainable competitive advantages.
Competitive advantages used to be value propositions such as products, price, staff, service, and location. But in the minds of customers these are all easily substitutable and highly commoditized.
A growth culture is a competitive advantage that is not easily duplicated by competitors or displaced by new technologies. For most companies, the other three sustainable competitive advantages are innovation, customer affinity and business intelligence.
It Beats Skills and Knowledge
Being smart is overrated.
There are many research studies that show growth cultures build teams that excel in communication and collaboration. They engage socially and without pretense. They consistently outperform higher skilled and more experienced teams that don't possess a comparable corporate ethos. Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things when inspired by a purpose bigger than themselves and their jobs.
It Drives Actions to Outcomes
Your ethos is not something you are, it's something you do.
Company cultures are not words or proclamations. They are observable behaviors and actions. They carefully define, measure and reinforce shared company values that influence the behaviors that determine the quality and volume of employee discretionary effort and productivity. This is why they drive much higher labor productivity.
It Can Be Systemically Improved
There are 6 dimensions to build a growth culture.
Orchestrating these levers, pursuant to a corporate culture framework will govern staff productivity, performance outcomes and company growth. Tools such as the below radar graph can be used to periodically measure performance and identify areas in need of improvement.
- In the above graph, the 6 dimensions are your company ideology declarations and generally include your company identity, vision, purpose, values, and behaviors.
- The employee experience is created by aligning employee goals and behaviors with the company's ideology and priorities. We recommend companies satisfying the employee engagement needs of Know Me, Value Me and Empower Me. You can then affirm their inclusion needs of I Believe, I Belong and I Matter. If not already done, a good starting point is to capture employee insights that show how to acquire, retain, engage and motivate staff.
- The manager experience works when managers have the skills and tools to communicate, model and reinforce the ideology and contribute to the employee experience. For many companies this will require more active leadership methods, such as servant leadership, and giving managers the training to coach, facilitate and mentor staff.
- Customer experience advances a corporate ethos to a growth culture. Most business leaders recognize that customer centricity is the most direct path to sustained revenue growth. However, they often fail to recognize that the employee experience is prerequisite to the customer experience. Happy employees make happy customers.
- The ideology must be embedded in the operational fabric. Most companies will need to pursue a two-fold path of modifying their business processes to create alignment and remove misalignment. Process alignment is created when staff goals, values, behaviors and performance measures are aligned with the culture ideology and business strategy.
Removing misalignment discards business processes and incentives that are not aligned with the company ethos and strategy. The effort to remove misaligned processes can take more time and effort as it requires a willingness to let go of sacred cows, old habits, business as usual and the fear of change. People must stop defending the past and build for the future.
- Software technology is required for process automation, information reporting and scale. It's a good idea to start with information reporting as it provides the baseline and scorecard to measure and improve. Below is culture dashboard that we routinely use to bring clear visibility and measurement to an otherwise imprecise program.
As the radar chart shows, your corporate ethos is in flux based of the effectiveness of each dimension. Our experience shows that progress fluctuates a lot in the beginning, while it is in development. But if measured, managed and reinforced, it stabilizes as the company evolves from reform to refine.