Should you Focus on Metrics or Culture?

Do you focus on results or culture? Yes.

Do you feel a tension between the pursuit of a healthy culture vs. the achievement of results? If your answer is yes, you are having a very common experience, one that most organizations share.

If your answer is no, experience tells me that you are in one of two scenarios, 1) your organization has successfully found the right balancing point between the two OR, 2) your organization is stuck in this tension and you don’t realize it.

We have conscious and unconscious pursuits to balance between the need to cultivate culture and achieve results. Working with some of the world’s highest performing organizations, we see that they struggle to find the balance too.

It is complicated. A healthy, innovative culture (one that has Accountability and Emotional Safety®) tends to generate better business results. By the same token, many organizations that achieve great results find that associate engagement is a natural by-product. People feel better about an organization when they are celebrating success.

It’s the traditional yin yang. Good performance is usually one of the primary ingredients of good culture and a good culture tends to drive high performance.

Performance + Culture = Performance Culture

Here are 3 tips to find the balance point between performance and culture in order to generate a high-performance culture in your organization:

1) Tell the truth when recruiting. If your organization is riding a success wave, if you are growing and profitable, recruit accordingly and screen for people who have already contributed to a growing and successful team. If on the other hand, your organization is in crisis and you need firefighters, tell the truth about that too. Screen for people with excellent crisis management behaviors like “staying cool under pressure”

2) Measure everything – objective or subjective, decide on, publish, and regularly check in on your metrics. Objective measurements like having a 5% reduction in delivery errors is easy to measure and communicate. When subjective, like “how much do our customers like our pizza?”, you have to take a bold stand and knowing you won’t be perfect. You say something like “85% of our customers rate our pizza as “very good” or “excellent” on a five-point Likert scale”.

3) Celebrate and Standardize your successes. You get the behavior you incentivize. When you are achieving success after following steps one “telling the truth about your culture” and two- “have clearly communicated metrics”, it is time to both celebrate and processize. (If processize isn’t a word, I’m making it one now). This means that you give rewards and recognition to your star players. Extra PTO, cash, or recognition within the organization. One way of measuring a star player is their direct contribution to an achievement. Another is holding people to a standard; namely studying your successes for repeatable process improvements. This is what we mean by processize.

These are just 3 ways to find the sweet spot between culture and performance. Check out our other blogs and/or any of our best-selling books for other ways to outperform your competition.

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