Top Companies are Shaping New Ways to Work
Michael DeVenney
March 28, 2022

More than 80% of leaders felt their organizations responded to the pandemic reasonably well, yet more than half acknowledge there is a significant crack in the foundation. The pressures of the ongoing crisis weakened the strategic strength of most companies, their resilience is strained.

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Yet, about 18% of leaders positioned their businesses to grow stronger during the pandemic and are set to outperform further as the next phase of our market emerges.

What are they doing differently?

Leaders of outperforming companies are proactively shaping new ways of working. By focusing energy and attention on how people work together, businesses are building capacity and capability to move with agility and speed to take a competitive position.

At the root of the way people work together is culture. And the critical point leaders of top-performing organizations understand is that the culture experienced before the pandemic is not the same as it is today or will be going forward. The environment shapes behaviors and the pandemic lasted long enough and impacted our lives deeply to the point of permanently shifting those behaviors. People are not the same as they were.

But right now, leaders have the unbelievable opportunity to remake the culture of how we work together deliberately and proactively in a healthy way – companies with healthy cultures return three times greater results than others.

So, what is culture?

In simple terms, culture is a predisposition to behave in a certain way. It is a common set of behaviors and the underlying mindset that shape how people work and interact with each other day-to-day. As 85% of performance results from the collective work of people (not individual contribution), smart leaders are moving to learn from the pandemic and create healthy working environments where people can be at their best together.

What actions shape a healthy work environment?

Maybe an engagement survey will help. NO! No, it will not. Engagement is correlated with improvement in financial performance but covers less than 20% of the attributes of culture. With engagement surveys, leaders only have one-fifth of the data they need.

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Leaders need a deeper understanding of how people respond to the decisions being made, the methods followed for execution, the dynamics of interactions, and how people experience the workplace.

And people are also questioning their work and if they want to continue in their roles and with the organizations. For many, the pandemic raised the feeling that work needs to be more than a job. People are looking for purpose in their work, how they create a meaningful impact for the customer and the company. They want their work to make a difference. And with purpose, comes a commitment to bring the highest level of contribution to the organization.

This is what top leaders are catching – the wave of connecting individual purpose to the purpose of the business and shaping culture to enable people to interact and contribute in a healthy way.

Culture analytics enable leaders to look inside the organization and see how things truly happen, and how people honestly feel. They find what is working, what needs to change, and how people want to work. By measuring the perspectives and sentiment of people throughout the organization, leaders gain the depth and scope needed to shape new ways of working that positions the business to outperform. People are aligned in a healthy way to contribute.

With the analytic, leaders can see what factors correlate and influence behaviors and can put attention to investing in what people truly need to be at their best.

Leaders have the answers they need, but a further challenge exists. The experience with engagement surveys is that once completed they often become shelf ornaments, never to be acted upon, just an annual action to check a box. Culture analytics offer a further advantage in applying insights for implementation through the development of a feedback-informed leadership team. The key insights from the cultural analytics are framed into initiatives and lead by developing leaders who learn and grow as they implement, with consistent feedback of how people feel to stay on track, make shifts as needed.

People do not want to return to the same office environment, most do not even want to go back to the office. And they want to work differently. They have had autonomy and flexibility in how they work and want to build on that with a greater sense of purpose in what they do – all of which is positive to building a healthy working environment, a culture that enables people to work well together.

Top companies are experimenting and innovating in how work is done. You can do the same and reimagine the way your teams work together, interact with each other, and support the delivery of value to customers, applying creativity to strengthen the strategic resilience and innovation of the business.

People with the skills needed to move the company forward are in shorter supply, financial capital is more available than the talent needed for growth. Getting culture right is crucial for outperformance.

The answer to knowing how to shape the culture is surprisingly simple. Ask the people for their perspectives. And just like that, they will tell you and show you the way to work that will build a healthy culture for your company.

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