By Chris Mandzufas
Culturing at work: Practical ways to build a culture that can drive high performance in 2024 and beyond
When driving implementation and change within a business, much of the foundations that will drive success come back to having a strong culture. You can have all the training, methodologies and quality people in place, but if the culture is poor, very little will happen, or a lot will happen but may lead to poor outcomes.
Building a strong culture is challenging at present, due to a VUCA world and many other pressures business owners face. VUCA being the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, that we increasingly see across all industries. However, while challenging, it remains essential. Remember, as Peter Drucker says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
What makes a strong culture?
Culture vs Culturing
Leading corporate anthropologist Michael Henderson is a specialist in human values and high-performance organisational culture. He states that “Culture isn’t a noun, it’s a verb. Thus we call it culturing. Your company’s culture starts fresh every single day.”
Think of building culture not as a one-off event and a ‘noun’ but as a ‘verb’ and as something that is ongoing and refreshes every day. Leaders direct performance, but culture delivers performance. Without a strong culture, business performance cannot exist.
Culture is at the centre of impacting your business, team and customers in many ways.
How to Transform Your Culture?
Michael Henderson created the 4 A’s model to help business owners and managers understand your culture and how you can transform your company culture.
The steps when evolving the culture of a business by reflecting on this 4 A’s model from Michael Henderson.
Firstly, be aware of what your culture is:
- Where does it come from?
- How is it formed?
- Who leads culture?
- Who owns culture?
Where does culture play a role in your business?
- Where is it relevant?
- Where is it adding value?
- Where is it allowing collaboration or separation?
- What action needs to be taken on culture or with culture?
- Where can we dial up where culture is impacting the business?
What is it achieving for us?
- Is it giving us a better connection to our customers?
- Is it retaining talent more than before?
- Is it creating greater cross-function learning?
The Importance of Trust in Company Culture
A key component of most strong cultures is that of trust. When businesses seek to drive high performance, they must ensure trust is a key component across the team, suppliers and leadership.
Well-known author and thought leader Patrick Lencioni says “When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer”. Trust is key in a strong culture, but a business also needs to embrace productive conflict to navigate through what will continue for a while to be volatile markets requiring good levels of agility.
In summary, a strong organisational culture is foundational for driving success and business transformation. Culturing is the act of intentionally directing culture as a dynamic process. The 4 A’s model by Michael Henderson may be helpful for owners, to transform a company’s culture. This approach encourages reflection on culture’s origins, relevance, necessary actions, and outcomes.
If you want to discuss the above and how you might improve your company culture and leadership performance, please do not hesitate to contact us or call our office on (08) 6212 7200.