Simplifying Culture So Managers Can Actually Execute On It

Wadors said, “Culture is also reflected in the policies and practices that companies promote. Together they create the employee value proposition that reflects and reinforces a company’s culture – both real and aspirational.”

Three Types Of Corporate Cultures

According to Stallard there are three types of cultures:

  1. Culture of Control. The first is the culture of control. In this culture, most people feel controlled by one of more of the following: autocratic leaders, micromanagement, too many rules, or bureaucracy.
  2. Culture Of Indifference. The second is a culture of indifference, in which most people feel that the people they work with don’t care about them and see them merely as a means to an end. Both cultures of control and cultures of indifference make people feel unsupported, left out, and lonely.
  3. Connection Culture. The best culture is a connection culture. In this type of culture, most people describe feeling connected to their supervisor, colleagues, their work, the organization’s leaders, and the people the organization serves. When people feel these connections, they thrive, individually and collectively.

What is a connection culture and who has one?

The connection culture has three parts: communicate an inspiring vision, value people and give them a voice (or vision + value + voice = connection).

One example comes from the warehouse club Costco. Costco’s inspiring vision is summed up in the phrase “do the right thing.” Costco’s code of ethics elaborates: Obey the law, take care of our members, take care of our employees, and respect our suppliers. It’s reinforced in stories of the company doing what’s right even when it hurt. The attitude at Costco is that if people throughout the organization live up to these standards, it will reward shareholders. Costco shows it values employees by, among other things, paying them well and providing generous benefits and career growth opportunities. Costco gives employees a voice by seeking their ideas and opinions on ways to improve the business, considering them and implementing the best ones. Ryan Watkins, general manager of a Costco in Albany, Oregon, said, “When you take the time as a general manager, as a leader in the company, to connect your employees with the vision of the company, you build value into them as individuals, and you ensure that they have a voice, you’re going to create cultures of connection in your building, and that’s when things really start to happen.”

The data on loyalty and trust shows that this culture is working for Costco. Costco has higher employee and customer retention levels that its competitors. Costco’s culture is key to its success, which has been recognized in independent research. To determine the best employer each year, Statista and Forbes survey 30,000 workers at U.S. organizations, asking them questions about their work experience. Costco has consistently appeared in the top three and last year surpassed Google as the overall best large company employer in America.

Why are so many employees who affect the customer experience doing more damage than good?  It’s because managers have no idea what to do with the vague mandates around culture assigned to them by leadership. It’s time to get clear on how to build a culture of connection.

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