Four Steps to a Dynamic Company Culture

6 min read

Take a minute to imagine your perfect job. What makes it great? Are you given unlimited vacation days, provided with free eats, and allowed to take your pooch to work? Hold up- while all of these “incidental perks” might attract new hires, what really makes a position ideal? Many would agree that what truly makes people enjoy their jobs long term is less tangible, and more about the ever-so-difficult to define- and highly coveted- vibrant company culture. Organizational vision, mission, and values don’t build themselves. Here are four steps you can take to create a dynamic company culture, using your data and incentive compensation plan to fine-tune your messages and make sure everyone is singing the same tune.

Step 1: Evaluate. Your company’s data is your magic 8 ball

Look at your vision, mission, and value statements and make sure they are up to date and complement current organizational goals. Next, assess your current company culture. For the most part, you can do this by examining employee behavior. The best clues about your current company culture are found in historical and current data, which tell you everything you need to know about organizational processes. For example, let’s say that your organizational values promote teamwork, openness, and sharing, and your organizational goals are best supported by a culture that is collaborative. If employee actions and behaviors don’t represent those values and goals, and instead reveal an environment that is hyper-competitive- you’ve got a problem.

Step 2: Articulate

Vision, mission, and value statements are supposed to support a company culture that results in success. But, employees often don’t hear what you’re trying to say. One of the best ways to crank up the volume, articulate your intentions, and make sure employees get the message is through your incentive compensation strategy. An incentive compensation plan that supports your intended culture: Tells employees what is expected; and tells them how they are supposed to meet expected goals. To figure out how well you’re using compensation to communicate, look at your data. If individuals, teams, and the company as a whole are meeting goals with behaviors that align with your stated values, you’re right on track. If, on the other hand, your goals aren’t being met, you may need to do a better job of using compensation to drive values and corporate culture.

Step 3: Reciprocate. Do unto others…

In 2002 dell computer issued a new corporate value statement which they called “the soul of dell” In this statement, they articulated the five values that dell considered imperative to its success: customer loyalty, teamwork, direct communication and relationships, and winning.[1] What’s interesting about this anecdote is that dell’s leaders didn’t lock themselves in a room and write this definition alone. Instead, they engaged their employees in the reexamination of company culture. The process took two years. A company with a motivating culture doesn’t just dictate that culture. Instead, company leaders find out what’s important to employees, and use data to determine what kind of culture and rewards resonate best; then they develop strategies that deliver on both counts.

Step 4: Investigate. Keep up with ch-ch-changes...

According to the society of human resources management (shrm), about 30 percent of mergers fail because of cultural incompatibility[2]. Whether your organizational culture has been affected as a result of a large external event, such as a merger, or a smaller internal event, such as a change in leadership, it’s important to take frequent looks at both culture and compensation to make sure they are still aligned. By drilling into your data, you can tell if you’re still on track, if employees are meeting your expectations, and if your incentive compensation policies are meeting their expectations. Now that you know the importance of aligning compensation with company culture, you’re poised to unleash dramatic changes in employee satisfaction, performance, and company-wide results.

[1] Fisher, Lawrence M., “How Dell got Soul” strategy + business, Fall 2004
[2] SHRM Case Study: Cultural Management and Mergers and Acquisitions. March 2005. Society for Human Resources Management. Retrieved from Content/Documents/CMS_011564.pdf