Recently one of my readers posed the following: “To be perfectly honest, I am ambivalent about this subject because I feel that most HR people concentrate far too much of their time and effort just talking, and talking, and talking some more about this subject, even though a company’s culture is important to recruitment and, most importantly, retention. What line management cannot understand is why HR likes to talk incessantly about culture and other conceptual issues, thereby avoiding the real hard BUSINESS issues that they face every day. While I fully recognize the value of having a well-defined, people-oriented culture, in my view, HR would gain a lot more respect from line management if: a) It would take the time to define the culture of THEIR COMPANY, rather than a “wanna be” culture, b) get management’s approval, publish it, and train all management on its content, c) cease all the unnecessary talk about the culture and d) start to help line management achieve its BUSINESS objectives by utilizing various HR services.”

Why Care About Your OC?

From this seemingly benign comment, I realized that many business leaders (including HR business leaders) don’t fully understand the unassuming competitive advantage that lies at their fingertips, often untapped and grossly underutilized, their OC. So the question becomes – WHY? Why should I give a hoot about this thing called OC (Organizational Culture)?  The answer is simple – revenue and profits!

Research Supports OC and Engagement as a Competitive Advantage

Kevin Kruse has documented no less than 29 independent research studies that demonstrate a direct correlation between employee engagement, which comes from an emotional, personal connection to your OC, and performance. In Kevin’s book, Employee Engagement 2.0, he describes the documented correlation between engaged employees and business performance using the following graphic: Kevin Kunse As you can see from this drawing, the reader is absolutely right – culture is critical to recruitment and retention (of both employees and customers) but it has the ability to go far beyond that. If business leaders use their OC only at a surface level for recruiting and retention they lose the ability to leverage OC as a long term competitive advantage to achieve extraordinary results. The Hay Group recently reported that employees who are both highly engaged and enabled are 50% more likely to outperform expectations.

What it Takes to Win

And this is where the reader’s understanding of OC falters. You can’t simply identify the OC you currently have because it may be hindering, not helping your organization’s performance. As previously noted, effective leaders need 2 components to win in the marketplace 1). A winning strategy and 2) the OC to support it. Once that gap is identified, a course of action must be charted to close the gap, including a communication plan that engages employees (at every level) so their individual discretionary effort and performance can be leveraged to turn your strategy into reality.

The big WHY

Why are you interested in your organization’s OC? If you’re not interested – Why not? Is your organization achieving the results needed to compete in the marketplace? What role does your OC play a role in your organization’s success? We’d love to hear your OC story.