What makes an organization truly successful? Business leaders spend a lot of their time and energy trying to answer this question so their companies can flourish. An abundance of research has been conducted to analyze just what it takes and the word “culture” often comes up as a key component. But what is culture and why is it so important?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines culture as a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization.
Research has shown that a well-developed culture leads to positive changes in an organization, including more participation, collaboration, and higher moral among employees. It also helps foster tremendous growth with increased staff retention and overall stronger financial results.
Engineering companies that create a strong business culture often find that it helps define their businesses and guides employees through their day-to-day operations. Ultimately, this leads to long-term benefits for employees and the organization.
In a recent study from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, executives said corporate culture drives profitability, acquisition decisions and even whether employees behave in ethical ways.
As part of the study, more than 1,800 CEOs from around the world (including 1,400 from the United States and Canada) were asked about the importance of culture in the workplace. The majority of those surveyed, 78 percent, said it was among the top five things that made their company valuable; however, only 14 percent said their own corporate culture was where it needed to be. Ninety-two percent said they believed that improving their corporate culture would improve the value of their company.
If companies believe so strongly about the importance of creating a strong corporate culture, what action can engineering companies take to implement it within their own businesses?
A study conducted by “The Harvard Business Review,” surveyed more than 20,000 workers worldwide and found, “Why we work determines how well we work.”
The article, “How Company Culture Shapes Employee Motivation,” written by Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi in the Harvard Business Review, pointed to the six main reasons people work. They include:
- Play: They work because they enjoy it.
- Purpose: They work because they value the direct outcome.
- Potential: They work because it enhances their potential.
- Emotional Pressure: They work due to external forces, which are separate than the actual work conducted.
- Economic Pressure: They work due to an eternal force to gain a reward or avoid punishment.
- Inertia: They work but are unclear why because the motive is so far removed.
The study found that a high-performance culture maximizes play, purpose and potential, while minimizing emotional pressure, economic pressure and inertia.
Engineering companies that take steps to build a culture that incorporates play, purpose and potential will set their organization apart from others and work toward building a thriving business.
You might be wondering how to motivate employees to adopt a strong business culture. McGregor and Doshi offered the following recommendations:
- Hold a “huddle” meeting with employees each week to discuss what was learned during the week (play); what impact did I have (purpose); and what I want to learn next week (potential).
- Explain why the work was done.
- Consider the role of the team and allow them to see the impact of their work (purpose).
The goal is to create an environment that inspires and encourages employees to feel valued and supported. When employees feel more appreciated, they tend to work better with others, have more respect for their leaders and are better able to contribute.
Creating a strong culture in your organization is a long-term effort. It doesn’t happen overnight. But by taking small steps, it will lead to the long-term success and growth of your company.
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