Culture: The Crucial Contributor in Business Results

Success Starts HereWe’ve heard it all before: Culture is a driver and enabler of sustained talent excellence and business performance. Last week, my esteemed Brandon Hall Group colleague Mollie Lombardi, VP and Principal Analyst Workforce Management Practice, and Shelley Schmoker, VP of Marketing at Bloomfire, spoke about the links between agility and collaboration.

Over the weekend, I was reading Change the Culture, Change the Game, authored by thought leaders Tom Smith and Roger Connors, and they said: “Either you manage your culture, or it will manage you.” Brandon Hall Group’s research and Connors and Smith’s research corroborate: The right culture champions high levels of sustained talent performance and amazing business results:

Collaborative Culture

Engagement of Critical Talent is Excellent or Very Good

We Have World-Class Talent Management

Our Employment Brand is Perceived as Excellent or Very Good





Competing/Controlling Culture

Engagement of Critical Talent is Excellent or Very Good

We Have World Class Talent Management

Our Employment Brand is Perceived as Excellent or Very Good




Source: Brandon Hall Group, 2014 State of Talent Management Survey and Industry Perspective

Operational and talent decisions and activities underscore culture as a powerful driver of employee engagement, talent management, and employment brand. In fact, of organizations with high-performance collaborative cultures, 65% report very good or excellent engagement of their critical talent segments. Compare that to organizations with competing/controlling cultures, and only 8% report very good or excellent engagement in the same talent segment.

Next, consider talent management practices. Of organizations with collaborative cultures, 8% say their talent is leading practice – making a significant contribution on top- and bottom-line business results. You may not be terribly impressed with that single digit number, but compare it to those organizations with competing cultures. Not a single organization whose culture is competing reported managing talent in any sort of efficient, effective and business-driven way.

Finally, perception of employment brand is significantly impacted by the organizational culture that prevails. Of organizations with collaborative cultures, 42% indicated that their employment brand is very good or excellent. Conversely, of organizations with competing cultures, only 27% indicated that their employment brand is very good or excellent.

Culture-led organizations also report non-monetized benefits: agile processes, resilient workforces, innovative employees, and trust in senior leadership. Culture sensitivity provides solutions to tenuous engagement, talent management, and brand.

Acknowledging and promoting respect for cultural collaboration motivates employees, prevents conflicts, promotes inclusiveness, creates optimal conditions for development, and makes engagement sustainable. These measures combine for one purpose: Accelerated and sustained business results.

Capitalizing on the Potential of Cultural Collaboration

Culture is transversal, cutting across all employees regardless of their position, level, region, or function. Consideration of the role of culture requires leaders’ full attention to processes and outcomes that influence the growth, or degradation, of a collaborative culture.

Our recent interviews with leaders who head organizations characterized by collaborative cultures point to at least three guidelines to mainstream a high-performance culture:

  • Ensure fairness. Fairness is a core moral and it is the core of your organizational culture and can be described as equal reward for equal contribution (not to be confused with equal treatment for all). Unfair treatment results in disputes, conflicts, and retaliation – factors that deteriorate business performance.
  • Hold leaders accountable. This is about embracing change and taking personal ownership for achieving results. In a culture of accountability, employees step up to become a part of the solution.
  • Reward top performance. Intentional disproportional development, acknowledgement, and reward of high-potential employees and other top performers are essential. Nothing stalls performance and engagement more quickly than rewarding those who contribute less.

Together, these guidelines will build on a culture’s contribution to business performance.

Would you describe the culture at your organization as collaborative? If so, what actions did you take to create it? If your culture is not yet high-performance, what is the single greatest obstacle in achieving a collaborative culture? And how are you resolving it?

Until next time…

Laci Loew, Vice President and Principal Analyst,
Talent Management Practice,
Brandon Hall Group

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