The Importance of Culture, Purpose and Aspiring to Greatness

After attending O.C. Tanner’s Influence Greatness 2017 conference recently, I came away with some thoughts and concepts that I believe will help organizations reach for greatness and in the process deliver a dynamic workplace experience. These concepts are in direct alignment with Brandon Hall Group’s vision to inspire a better workplace experience.

Culture: Many of the messages conveyed at the O.C. Tanner event mirror, in part, components in Brandon Hall Group’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP) framework. For instance, we define EVP as the matching of what employers and employees value in each other. Or, to put it in more corporate terms, it is the organization’s formal strategy to provide an employment experience that prompts and sustains advanced levels of discretionary employee performance and productivity.

Sorry for the business lingo, but the main point I want to emphasize is that similar to the O.C. Tanner approach, we believe that leaders should have a strategy to manage and shape their organization’s culture (or workplace experience). Granted, an organization’s culture is organic, but that does not mean that leaders should just let that culture be. In order to optimize organizational performance, leaders need to shape that culture by reinforcing values and behaviors. When something goes wrong in the organization, when employees are disengaged or not collaborating, it is important for leaders to understand which of their practices led to that problem and not blame the employees. One good approach would be to recognize the employees that exemplify positive behavior tied to the organization’s core values.

Purpose: Another way to motivate employees and shape the organization’s culture is through the expression of the organization’s purpose. I am so happy that O.C. Tanner focused on this topic. Purpose is one of O.C. Tanner’s “talent magnets” for a successful culture. Too many times an organization’s purpose reads like a spreadsheet and is aimed at stockholders. O.C. Tanner indicates that the purpose, or reason for being, of an organization should be a “rallying cry,” defining the soul of the organization.  Employees and organizations want to make an impact, and purpose expresses how they are going to make that impact or difference.

Greatness: Everyone dreams about doing something great in their lives, whether it is work-related or in their personal lives. But how does an organization inspire great work? According to O.C. Tanner’s research, “recognize me” was the top response to the question, “What is the most important thing a manager or company currently does (or could do) to cause you to do great work?”  Of course, there were many additional responses to that question. However, recognition validates your being and shows that you are making an impact. That is pretty powerful.

So, as you can tell, the conference was inspiring and I was also impressed with the keynote speakers, especially Captain “Sully” Sullenberger who drove home the point that it is your organization’s culture and leadership that makes all the difference in individual and organizational performance.

Daria Friedman, Principal Analyst Talent Acquisition, Brandon Hall Group

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Mike Cooke



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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.