“Organisational culture is not the exclusive domain of larger organisations. Culture is something that all businesses, small, medium or large should strive to get right. – Coach Mi”
The following is a guest post by Sean Conrad of Halogen Software.
Building a strong organisational culture is important for many reasons.
Your organisational culture helps you establish your brand. It also helps to make your workforce more cohesive and productive. And culture has been shown to impact things like employee recruitment, engagement, performance and turnover. So it makes sense to actively create and strengthen their organisational culture.
Some of the ways you can do that is by leveraging your talent management processes, including: recruiting, performance appraisals, goal management/alignment, compensation, succession planning, and employee development. Here are some ideas.
Identify the core competencies that define your culture
Competencies are the behaviours, skills, performance standards or values that lead to high-performance or success in the organisation. They describe “how” you want your employees to accomplish work. They’re used in job descriptions, job requisitions, and performance appraisal forms. By identifying the core competencies that define your culture, then using them in your talent management programmes, you can help to communicate and strengthen your culture.
Start by identifying 4-6 core competencies that define success and embody your organisational culture. Are you known for: customer service, technical expertise, analytical skills, quality, collaboration? The list should be unique to your organisation. Then, spend time defining what those competencies mean and how you want them exemplified in your organisation. You can use commercially available competency libraries to help you in this exercise, but ultimately you want to come up with your own organisation-specific list and definitions.
Develop these core competencies in your employees
Now that you’ve identified the core competencies that define your organisational culture, you need to develop them in your employees. This is where your performance appraisal process can help. By including these core competencies in your performance appraisal forms and assessing everyone’s demonstration of them, you can gauge individual and organisational performance. Then, when a manager identifies a need for improvement during a performance appraisal meeting, they can assign the employee a development plan to help increase their proficiency. When you then look at overall organisational scores, you can identify larger scale learning needs and put programs in place to address them.
Making the assessment and development of core competencies an integral part of your performance appraisal process is an effective way to communicate core cultural competencies and the priority the organisation gives them. It makes them visible to everyone and reminds employees on a regular basis of the culture you’re striving to create or maintain.
Embed your culture in organisational goals
It’s also a good idea to include cultural values in your organisational goals and set targets for improvement. This again helps to communicate and reinforce their priority and builds alignment and focus. For example, if your culture has a strong customer focus you might want to establish a goal to improve customer satisfaction by a certain percentage and measure the results through a customer satisfaction survey. If quality is one of your cultural values, you could set an organisational goal to reduce product defects by a certain target. The important thing is to make the link between your culture and your goals, and make your culture tangible and practical for all employees.
Reward desired behaviours and culture
Don’t forget or underestimate the importance of rewarding desired behaviours and culture. Your reward, recognition and compensation programs can be powerful tools for building up or tearing down your organisational culture. For example, if you embrace teamwork and collaboration, rewarding an individual who achieves their goals at the expense of others can send the wrong message. Instead, make sure you acknowledge and strengthen positive contributions to organisational culture through a variety of formal and informal means. Some organisations use a bonus program to reward stellar behaviour, or an “employee of the month” or similar program.
Hire for cultural fit
When you’re hiring new employees, make sure you consider cultural fit, not just skills and experience. Include core competencies that represent your culture in the job posting to set expectations from the start. Ask questions during the interview process that reveal behaviours and attitudes. Think about whether the candidate shares your organisation’s values and will fit in with the team. By hiring for competencies as well as for professional skills and experience you can ensure cultural fit, reduce turnover and further strengthen your organisation.
Because of its impact on organisational success, culture is something you should work to actively cultivate. Having a strong cohesive culture helps to build alignment and create a more harmonious workplace where employees are engaged and productive. While culture isn’t something easy to build, leveraging your talent management programmes can certainly help.
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