Organizational Culture Articles

Creating a High Performing Environment

Author: Diane Hamilton, Date: 6/5/2015

Leaders play an important role in creating a motivating work environment.  They set the tone by demonstrating respect, valuing employees, and creating a supportive and encouraging atmosphere.

While you can’t really motivate someone, you can create the conditions that encourage people to be motivated to perform at their best.

While money is important, it isn’t the most powerful or effective motivator.  People want to be paid fairly, but it isn’t the force that generates discretionary effort. The following factors, when employed on a day-to-day basis, go a long way to creating an environment of high performance.


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Lack of Communication?

Author: Paul Dillenburg, Date: 10/11/2012

Over the last 16 years, we’ve conducted a myriad of assessments for our clients. Whether 360 degree feedback, culture studies, team assessments, or employee opinion surveys, we often hear about a “lack of communication” within the organizations we work with. My guess is within the organization you work you hear that there is a lack of communication as well. But what does this actually mean? Does anyone in your organization know?

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A Guide to Implementing Change

Author: Diane Hamilton, Date: 9/27/2011

Organizational change is difficult; yet, change is imperative to remaining competitive. Studies suggest that change efforts fail for a number of reasons, including:

• Changes are not anchored in corporate culture.
• A compelling business case is not made.
• The organization is not prepared for the change.
• The change vision is unclear; outcomes and measures are not well defined.
• Leaders fail to plan for and accomplish short-term wins.
• Communication is inadequate.
• Executives do not get personally involved in leading the change effort.

While change initiatives are often complex, we offer a few quick ideas to increase the success of your next change effort:

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People are Watching

Author: Diane Hamilton, Date: 9/13/2011

Like it or not, as a leader your behavior is under scrutiny. And that scrutiny increases the higher up the hierarchy you go. Employees are watching (and evaluating) your word choice, actions and behaviors. So it is helpful to ask yourself:

• “How inspiring am I?”
• “Am I demonstrating positive or negative energy?”
• “Do my actions match my words?”
• “Am I behaving in a way that is consistent with the organization’s culture and values?”
• “Am I modeling behaviors that I want others to follow?”

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Who cares how many hours you work – Maybe you’re inefficient

Author: Paul Dillenburg, Date: 8/9/2011

With all the recent talk surrounding the number of hours the typical American worker is now putting in, I was reminded of a talk I attended that brought together some of the country’s most successful leaders. One of the presenters was Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, a premier business analytics software company serving 45,000 customers and 92 of top 100 companies on the FORTUNE Global 500® list. Jim has led the privately-held company since it began in 1976. While SAS’s business success is impressive, the culture Jim has created is awe inspiring.

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Current Culture: A Starting Point for Change

Author: Diane Hamilton, Date: 4/26/2011

“The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture. If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.”

–Edgar Schein, professor MIT Sloan School of Management

I often hear leaders talk about the need to change organizational culture. According to Schein, in most organizational change efforts, it is much easier to draw on the strengths of the current culture than to overcome the constraints by changing the culture.

So, how do we better understand current culture?

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Living with Shear Joy

Author: Diane Hamilton, Date: 3/24/2011

People who know me well know that I am an animal lover. (Okay, you don’t have to know me very well to know that.) We live in the country and have our own little getaway with horses, barn cats (who think they own the place), and steers. It is our haven…our respite from very busy lives.

And then there is the dog. We have a Border Collie mix named Tripper. Like most dogs, at the mere mention of the word “walk” she exudes shear joy. Anyone who has had a dog knows this. But dog owners know that their dogs exhibit shear joy in almost everything they do.

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Heated Debate Versus Constructive Dialogue

Author: Diane Hamilton, Date: 1/18/2011

Heated Debate_imageCivil discourse.  Vitriolic language.  We’ve been hearing and reading a lot about the state of American politics and our ability to discuss and debate.  I don’t want to risk a comparison between our work lives and the Arizona tragedy.  Except in cases of violence, a comparison would be silly.  That being said, the concept of how we communicate with each other transfers from politics to our work lives each and every day.  Just how civil are we at work?  What does our organizational culture support?

I have worked in and been witness to work environments that have been quite heated—quite vitriolic.  In recent months, I have had individuals tell me (or have observed):

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Accountability Defined

Author: Paul Dillenburg, Date: 12/7/2010

Interested in finding out if your organization struggles with accountability? Pose this question from the book Influencer (Patterson et al) to your co-workers, “What does it take to get fired around here?” If the responses you hear are not performance-related, then what are employees telling you they are accountable for? What examples are given? Are the responses consistent with the mission, vision, and values of your organization? What are employees rewarded for or punished for? What message does a lack of punishment send to poor performers or those that violate the mission and values of your organization?

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Creating a Coaching Culture

Author: Diane Hamilton, Date: 11/9/2010

I spoke at a conference the other day and the topic included a discussion about creating a coaching culture. This is something I’m passionate about (ever increasingly). What can we do to create an environment where we are all responsible for coaching each other?

In most organizations, the expectation is clear that managers coach employees (e.g., performance-related coaching and sometimes development and career coaching). But this is a short-sighted view. Coaching is so much more powerful than that alone. While manager-employee coaching is crucial, if that is the only place we concentrate our efforts we miss out on the real value. I think we need to strive to create a culture where all employees are responsible for coaching. The goal is to uncover potential, deepen learning, improve performance, and enhance quality of life. The implications of this are that individually and organizationally we can produce extraordinary results.

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