What’s your vision of a winning culture?
When I’m implementing efficiency improvements with my clients, I’m almost always asked, “How do we sustain our improvements so they don’t become just another flavour of the month?” My answer? Look at your corporate culture.
Okay, okay, don’t roll your eyes – it’s true.
Everyone wants the quick fix. It should be simple…You have a problem, you fix it and then you go on to the new problem…right? Wrong! Efficiency improvements are not only about fixing problems but changing how people do their work. Fixing the problem is only the first step. Looking at – and changing – the culture in the organization to help sustain the improvement prevents people reverting to their old habits and losing the improvements you made.
What exactly is corporate culture?
The problem is corporate culture is hard to pin down…
“You can’t dictate culture – but you can influence it,” says Ron Ashkenas, HBR Blog Network. “Most senior managers struggle with culture because it’s so difficult to define. Even less tangible than a ‘soft’ concept, culture is more like a cloud: You know it’s there, but it’s nearly impossible to grasp…. But how do you come to an agreement on those ‘shared’ attitudes, values, goals, and practices? And even if you do, how do you get hundreds (or thousands) of people to think and act in the way you agreed upon?”
Ron suggests clearly communicating your vision of a winning culture and I agree. At CSD we have guiding principles that we call our Mantra. It reads like this…
At CSD we believe we are people of INTEGRITY who bring VALUE to everything we do. We take PRIDE in our work and know that every INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTION adds to the collective goal of providing the BEST SOLUTIONS and SERVICE to our clients and to CSD. We WORK HARD but know how to BALANCE our personal and professional needs. We have FUN at work and we live our life to its FULLEST POTENTIAL. We are always looking for ways to IMPROVE. We incorporate an INTELLECTUAL, EMOTIONAL and SPIRITUAL perspective in everything we do resulting in a BALANCED, HOLISTIC perspective in all of our activities. We take RESPONSIBILITY for our actions. We LEARN new things every day and apply them. We CHALLENGE ourselves to THINK DIFFERENTLY. We PRACTICE what we preach and WALK THE TALK. We THINK efficiently. We ACT efficiently. This makes us UNIQUE. We RESPECT each other, our clients, but most of all OURSELF. We are GRATEFUL for all the OPPORTUNITIES that are given to us. Every day is a NEW BEGINNING and opportunity to make a DIFFERENCE IN SOMEONE’S LIFE.
When we’re caught up in getting our client projects done, it’s easy to forget what we believe. We all have tunnel vision when we’re under pressure. Reviewing our mantra ensures we remember who we are and why we exist. In essence, the mantra defines our company culture at CSD.
This mantra lives on our office wall. We review it at all of our team meetings. We remind ourselves that this is who we are and how we behave.
My team appreciates knowing what’s expected and they often tell me that those guidelines help them stay in check when they’re off-course. We work at our culture and invest in it. We review and remind ourselves of our purpose and it feels good.
If you’re looking to improve your corporate culture, I recommend you develop your own mantra. If you can’t, visit our store and buy our mantra poster. We’ve taken out the reference to our company so you can use it to – and I hope you will. Sometimes it’s easier to borrow ideas than to create them – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Once you’ve got your mantra, hang it up and start reading it – daily. But most importantly, start believing in the words. I promise you will see positive change.
So start developing your mantra today. Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!
Adriana Girdler is the President of CornerStone Dynamics Inc and an expert in business efficiency, helping leading corporations streamline internal processes to work smarter and improve productivity. Learn more about Adriana Girdler.