Corporate Culture: Compliance or Commitment?

by | Apr 2, 2021

While there is no shortage of conversation about corporate culture, defining and measuring it remains an elusive concept.  Ask any organizational leader and they will quickly agree that culture is a driving force in the success of any enterprise. For something as impactful as this, one would think more time and effort would be devoted to a closer, more definitive look at how your culture drives your people, and your performance, and vice versa.

In our study of consistently high-performing companies, one measure that seems to separate them from the rest is the extent to which their employees go beyond the obvious and the basics of job performance.  I call it the difference between compliance and commitment; when team members go the extra mile in their attempt to serve both internal and external customers.  For those who enjoy this type of culture, it seems almost natural.  The typical response when asked about it is “well, this is just the way we do things here”.  Is that really all there is to it?

Well, no, not by a long shot.  The essential elements of a high-performing organizational culture permeate all aspects of the enterprise.  They include but are not limited to the way new team members are recruited, on-boarded, invested in, developed.  In addition to technical training (job-specific and skills based) there is a needed focus on developing the so-called “soft skills”, interpersonal relationships, emotional intelligence, and supervisory, management and leadership abilities.  This employee development is done with a specific purpose and focus and is not a “one off” endeavor.  It is part of the strategic and operating plan with timelines, specific targets and responsibilities and the appropriate budget allocation.

An individual employee development plan is outlined for each team member and made part of the performance management system.  In effect, the organization is establishing a partnership with each employee with a goal of reaching greater levels of competency resulting in higher value creation.

To say this approach is the exception is an understatement.  Most performance evaluation processes I’ve come across range from ineffectual and weak to downright dreadful!  This perfunctory, “check the box” approach to measuring performance elicits dread from the manager and a rising level of cynicism from employees.  Not the stuff of which high-performing cultures are made.  More on this later.

Why not begin a new chapter for your business by identifying a couple of high-potential team members and commit to advancing their professional development?  Whether online learning, facilitated “lunch & learn” case study sessions, your local community college or new, industry specific offerings like the Graphic Communications Leadership Institute make the commitment to build your corporate culture by investing in the development of your key people.  The returns can be nothing short of dramatic. 


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