Making Culture Your Competitive Advantage

graphic that says making culture your competitive advantage

by Tara Powers

This week’s topic is one near and dear to my heart. I absolutely believe that healthy organizations can create a healthy world. When you work for a company that has a healthy culture as opposed to a “dysfunctional culture” the results outside of the workplace can be tremendous. Happier families, increased volunteerism and sense of community, continuous learning, less stress, more active adults, less disease, stronger family relationships, less divorce, and a competitive advantage.  The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately by some estimates, as many as 95% of today’s workplaces exhibit some form of dysfunctional or “toxic” symptoms.

“A toxic organization is like a dysfunctional family. It shows two specific characteristics: first, a history of poor performance and poor decision-making; and second, very high levels of dissatisfaction and stress that go beyond normal workload issues”
– Robert Bacal, noted author and management consultant

What’s my point? Well…it’s not rocket science. If you are looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage over 95% of your competition – focus on creating a stellar work culture!

Changing culture involves a commitment of focus, time and energy. It has to start from the top-down, bottom-up, horizontally and vertically! There are many strategic steps to consider to make a shift in “how you do business.” However, I have included a few innovative, simple ideas that will help gain that competitive advantage that you can implement right away to get started:

  1. Send out press releases about employee or team achievements to your local newspaper.
  2. Hire a “Health Advocate” for your business that offers stretching classes, lunchtime walking classes, ergonomic analysis, stress analysis, etc.
  3. Develop a “wish list” of all the projects that are at the bottom of the priority pile but will hopefully be completed someday. Allow employees who have an interest in growing and developing new skills to take advantage of trying something outside of their comfort zone.
  4. Give employees time to volunteer and encourage employees to get involved in the community and report back on the results/impacts.
  5. Begin an Emerging Leader program and invite high potential employees to attend the program where they will learn new leadership skills for the future, be mentored by SMEs, and have the opportunity to collaborate on team improvement projects for the business.
  6. Start lunch-and-learn programs where each department introduces what they do, how they do it and who it impacts in the company.
  7. Take a quick survey of your staff and ask them what three words they would use to describe your company culture. Then ask them to provide three words they would use to describe a very healthy culture. Finally, ask them one thing you could do to improve your culture.
  8. Share more information than you are right now.

What are you willing to do differently this year, next year, or in the next three years to make culture YOUR competitive advantage? Whatever it is… get started!  Enlist the support of employees who are eager to champion change, and stay on path even when obstacles pop up, the naysayers grow louder, and your faith begins to waver. It is toughest when you are closest to a breakthrough. Keep in mind – greatness was never achieved without hard work and dedication.

Quote of the Week
“At times it is necessary to go over the top. How else can we get to the other side?”
– Kobi Yamada

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