Investing in a strong organizational culture “doesn’t cost much, but the return is enormous,” according to author and entrepreneur Will Scott. “It’s the greatest ROI that any leader can get.”
During a recent CB&A Expert Series webinar, Scott—author of The Culture Fix and founder of The Culture Fix Academy—explained how a strong organizational culture can reduce employee turnover, boost sales and lead to greater success among business-to-education (B2E) companies. He also gave advice on how companies can develop such a culture effectively.
In Scott’s new book, The Gift of Culture, he outlines a three-step process for developing a strong organizational culture that employees will embrace and take to heart.
Bring your culture alive
Building a positive culture begins with assessing where you are now, Scott said, so you have a baseline to compare against when measuring success. You might ask employees questions like, “What score would you give the company for having a great culture?” and “Can you name your company’s core values?”
“I’ve done this hundreds of times now,” Scott said. “In most companies, only half the employees can name only half the values—reducing your core values to only a quarter in terms of efficacy.”
To change that, leaders should work with employees to clearly define their company’s core values and the qualities they’re looking for in employees. “Make sure you’re carefully choosing words that are memorable and shareable,” Scott said; this helps employees remember and refer to those core values every day.
Developing this common language makes difficult conversations easier to navigate. You can say something like: “Hey, I notice that you’re working solo right now. Remember, one of our core values is teamwork. Can you come back into the conversation?”
“We want [those conversations] to happen from peer to peer when we’re not there,” Scott said. “That’s the key.”
Make it thrive
Once you’ve defined your company’s core values, the next step is to reinforce those beliefs so they become ingrained into the culture of your organization. Scott recommended creating what he calls a “CoreChart” that communicates your values graphically.
An effective CoreChart should include your company’s core values, behaviors and purpose. In other words…
- What are we trying to do?
- Who are we doing it for?
- Why are we doing it?
This last part, the “why,” is extremely important. Scott cited a 2018 study by Mercer of 8,000 employees across 21 industries that found employees were three times more likely to work for a company with a strong sense of purpose.
“We all have a purpose,” he said. “It’s a question of putting words to it. It has to be emotive. It has to touch peoples’ feelings.” Revenue goals aren’t enough to inspire loyalty and engagement.
Scott referred to the example of a company called Tevera, which makes software to help social workers be more efficient. The company’s mission statement is: “We serve those who serve others, so they can serve better.” Within its CoreChart, Tevera has defined its goal as “serving 250,000 helping professionals by June 30, 2025.”
“When you put words to your ‘why’ like this, it’s absolutely transformational,” Scott said. “The employees in this company now have in their signature, ‘How can I serve you better today?’ They’re not just writing lines of code in a software program—they believe they’re changing the world.”
Use it to drive performance
Once your core values have been ingrained into your organizational culture, you can use this culture to drive success. For instance, defining your core values helps you create effective metrics for hiring, evaluating and “unhiring” employees.
Scott showed a four-quadrant grid he calls the “CoreScore,” in which employees are rated along two axes: values and performance.
- Low values, low performance: Employees in this quadrant may need to be “unhired.”
- Low values, high performance: Employees in this quadrant should be trained on the company’s core values and unhired if they don’t improve.
- High values, low performance: Employees in this quadrant might be miscast within the organization. Moving them into the right role could improve performance.
- High values, high performance: These are your ideal team members.
A team that truly embodies an organization’s core values drives company performance higher, Scott concluded.
To learn more about developing a strong culture in your organization, you can watch the full webinar here.
About the author
Emily Embury is Executive Vice President of C. Blohm and Associates, Inc. She is CB&A’s heartbeat. Compelled by a passion for her craft and CB&A’s mission, Emily directs agency initiatives and client work. Her 10-plus years at the firm make Emily the team’s go-to resource for the tough questions. She’s counseled the big names – Blackboard, Dremel, Shutterfly and Discovery Education, to name a few – and it’s clients’ lasting impact on communities that keeps Emily coming back for more.
As good as Emily is at running the CB&A ship, she’s even better at chasing around her three little boys, raising a garden and sipping an Old Fashioned.