We often get asked by leaders why all their enormous efforts in transformation projects are not creating the intended outcome of a high performance organisation.
In our experience these are the 3 main barriers:
The complete focus is on increasing efficiency
All sorts of cost-cutting and efficiency boosting activities are taking place, e.g. digitalisation projects are speeding up processes. But these are optimisation projects and have nothing to do with a fundamental transformation, which leads to a quantum leap in performance. It is often overlooked that the best strategy does not work out, if its implementation is not supported by sufficient collaboration. The foundation of a premium collaboration is a premium company culture, while systems and processes are just reflecting the quality of the current culture.
The Culture Transformation Programme is mainly based on assumptions
When organisations are already working on culture, the leaders have a clear understanding where they want to go, but often they do not know where they really are, regarding their current culture. The transformation programme is therefore based on unverified assumptions. This would be similar to entering the destination address into your navigation system without a GPS signal. The system would create a routing plan starting from the latest known address from last year. No wonder why so many companies get lost on their transformation journey, because they have to start from where they actually are and not from where they would like to be.
The Desired Culture has been created by the brain and is not touching the hearts
Most of us have seen the glossy pictures on the walls, displaying the company values. Unfortunately, these values and behaviours often do not have the magical power to touch the hearts of the employees. From the Google Aristotle project we understand, that the main contributor to high performance is the “psychological safety” of the employees. Therefore it is important for the desired culture to create a great internal cohesion, which supports a strong emotional bond between the employees and the company. It is not about creating the perfectly thought through and strictly defined desired culture, which decorates walls beautifully, but is not touching the hearts of the employees, because it is not addressing their needs.
How can we bypass these barriers and successfully build a High Performance Culture?
Simply put, we have to create a high amount of psychological safety in our employees.
But how do we implement a working environment with much less frustration and fear, in which the employees find meaning and contribute with all their potential?
Psychological fear arises in human beings, when the most important needs are not fulfilled. But how do we find out which needs our employees really have?
For this we use a method, which from our perspective, addresses all 3 barriers in one step:
The „Cultural Values Assessment“, created by the Barrett Values Centre.
This online Values Assessment is using a consciousness model, which is based on an extended version of Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs. The values, which have been chosen by the people, are making the real needs visible.
This way, leaders easily realise:
- Which personal needs they themselves and their employees bring to work every day?
- How the employees experience the current collaboration?
- How the common desired culture of the organisation would look like, when the most important needs are met and the people contribute at best.
During a culture workshop, the leaders analyse the Values Assessment Output and identify Quick-Win Actions, which will address the employees’ biggest concerns and frustrations in the current culture. This increases the trust of the employees because their feedback has been heard and actions are taken to improve these hot spots.
In a second step, the leaders design their unique desired culture, which takes into account the needs of the whole organisation. When employees feel cared for, this touches their hearts and boosts their engagement significantly.
The insights gained from the values assessments increase the awareness of the leaders for their own needs, as well as the needs of their employees. They also realise how big their personal influence is on the daily collaboration of their teams. This is a very powerful start for the longer transformation journey ahead.
The sustainable transformation into a high performance organisation depends very much on the successful personal transformation of the leaders. They regularly reflect about their personal behaviour patterns, challenge their own habits and assumptions. The leaders exemplify the transformation, they wish to see in their employees and become great culture multipliers for the whole organisation.
The culture of an organisation is like a garden. If it should flourish and produce sweet fruits, it needs regular attention and care. To avoid that the original enthusiasm for the desired culture gets lost between urgent operational tasks, the executives need to put it on their agenda regularly to manage the progress.
An annual culture check, displays changes of the needs of the people and makes culture transparent and measurable. This way you can successfully manage the transformation of your company into a
high performance organisation.