A Fit For Success Does Your Organizational Culture Match Its Goals
Talent Published Date, 2024

A Fit For Success: Does Your Organizational Culture Match Its Goals?

Created By: Jessica Shatzel
April 16, 2024

For organizations looking to do the next big thing – institute a new program, increase philanthropic contributions, or scale in organizational size – your organizational culture should be the first thing considered. Do we have a culture that supports innovation? Can our current culture withstand growth? Does our culture enable our employees to be their best and do their best work? If the answer to those questions is anything other than a resounding “yes,” your culture might need to become your next priority.

Each organization has its own feel or “vibe” ranging from collaborative, friendly, professional, or competitive. These “vibes,” more formally defined as the organizational climate, are created and sustained by culture.

Organizational culture consists of three pillars:

  1. Norms & Values tell us what is appropriate, allowed, required, or forbidden at work. For instance, if an organization encourages its employees to take their PTO, or disconnect from email in the evening, these are indications that the organization values work-life balance. Similarly, an organization that recognizes and celebrates cross-functional achievements, likely places value on collaboration.
  2. Beliefs & Stances are central and deeply entrenched in the minds of employees, especially at mission-driven organizations. As an example, individuals working within an organization serving individuals experiencing homelessness likely have a deep-rooted belief in access to basic human rights and the need for affordable housing, and this shared belief becomes a part of the culture.
  3. Behaviors are apparent in the way individuals act within an organization and can be the most critical determinant of culture. It has often been said that culture is defined by how people act when no one is watching. Behaviors of employees and teams signal to others what is expected from interpersonal dynamics, dress codes, and whether this is an organization where people take their lunch break or not.

Amidst all of the varying components and definitions of organizational culture, it is agreed that culture is the #1 most underrated determinant of an organization’s future success. This insight comes from a survey of 500 senior executives of the world’s most admired companies. Notable among them are industry giants like Nike, Apple, Walt Disney, Home Depot, Target, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola, all ranking in the top 50.

What Motivates Staff? Considering Employee Value Propositions

When we consider employee motivations for the work they do every day, we consider what is known as an Employee Value Proposition (EVP). The EVP consists of five pillars: Compensation, Benefits, Career, Work Environment, and Culture. While a competitive salary may initially attract an employee to your organization, it is their alignment with your mission, vision, values, and ethos that will retain them. Although an employee may be interested in opportunities for professional development and growth within your organization, they will not be engaged if they do not experience trust, inclusion, or belonging.

The key driver of employee retention, engagement, and success is organizational culture. Positive cultures with climates for inclusion and high levels of trust are the most likely to achieve their goals. In fact, organizations defined by these cultural elements are six times more likely to be innovative, six times more likely to anticipate and respond effectively to change, three times more likely to be high-performing, and two times more likely to meet or exceed financial targets.

How to Build and Sustain Positive Organizational Culture

Cultures of inclusion ensure employees are valued, respected, accepted, and encouraged to fully participate in the organization, resulting in these employees experiencing a sense of belonging within their organization. If we were to ask team members who experience a high sense of belonging in an inclusive culture to answer the following questions, they would respond with strong agreement:

  • I know what is expected of me at work.
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • My supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person.
  • At work, my opinions seem to count.
  • In the last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow at work.

These environments allow employees to be transparent, honest, and vulnerable, and to build trust – in each other to collaborate, in leadership to support, and in the organization to do the right thing. As outlined in Lencioni’s Pyramids Model for Teamwork, when trust is at the core, employees and teams are able to scale up and focus on achieving collective results, whether it be that new program, fundraising target, or organizational scaling. Trust enables teams to debate ideas, to innovate without the fear of failure or ridicule, to commit to shared visions and actions, and to hold one another accountable along the way.

The benefits of trust-based, inclusive, and vulnerable cultures include:

  • Courage for innovation and creativity.
  • Stronger, more connected teams.
  • Open and honest dialogue.
  • High levels of trust and collaboration.
  • Increased performance and growth.
  • Employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

Building this culture does not happen overnight. It takes time, intentionality, reflection, and awareness. The good news is that getting started is not hard. Your organization can take a few simple steps to begin to establish a culture that will enable you to achieve beyond your biggest dreams just by being honest and supportive, transparent, empathetic, and consistent. As long as employees at all levels are committed and view organizational culture as a priority, these small changes will make a lasting impact.

If your organization is seeking support in culture-building trainings, workshops, retreats, or assessments, Orr Group’s Talent team has what takes to help you drive positive and impactful change. Get in touch to learn more about how we can support your organization’s cultural objectives.

Jessica Shatzel is a Senior Director and Head of Talent Management at Orr Group. Jessica specializes in executive search, recruitment, and DEI strategy, and provides a variety of human resources support for our clients.

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