Thought Leadership

Why I Understand the Value of Cultural Alignment: Once a Client, Now Culture Partner’s Senior Culture Strategist Tracy Dodd

(Note: When you witness how you can improve results by unleashing the power of culture, it stays with you. And often it provides a compelling reason for people who once were clients of Culture Partners to come on board as one of us. This blog series shares what they learned firsthand in their culture change experience and how others can similarly benefit.)

From turf wars that led to a lack of alignment to finger pointing when things went wrong, Tracy Dodd is well aware of what happens when organizations are not leading culture with intention. According to Tracy, how successful you are comes down to how well you create the right experiences for your team members.

“One organization had a command-and-control style of management,” says Tracy. “In this environment, there was a lot of tail covering and very little psychological safety.”

While involving only a few employees, the situation had come to a head when the company was cited for contracting improprieties. The independent examiner assigned to help the organization remediate findings noted that “tone at the top” was a major contributing factor.

Shortly afterwards, the company began work to improve accountability as the first step in a multi-year culture journey. “One of my reports had learned about and attended a free Accountability Workshop from Partners in Leadership (now Culture Partners),” explains Tracy. “When she shared the content with me, I knew this was exactly what we needed.”

A Case for Culture Change

Most closely associated with the citation, the Finance and Operations team became the starting point for the transformation effort. With poor morale in the department, top talent leaving, and difficulty attracting new hires, it was important to get culture right. At the same time, the company needed to show it was improving internal processes and workplace culture to restore confidence among both existing and prospective customers.

“A goal in improving accountability was to help shift mindsets so that people would be willing to ask questions and take ownership, instead of being afraid to do anything they weren’t told to do,” says Tracy.

Meanwhile, the urgency to make this shift was compounded by the need to drive more growth organically, as the company was moving away from a strategy of growth by acquisition.

Accountability Leads the Way

To get the transformation effort underway, the training team that supported Finance and Operations completed the master certification program in accountability. Because Finance and IT had been experiencing the most friction, the Finance and IT teams participated together in a series of global Accountability Workshops and additional learning around the See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It (SOSD®) framework, gap analysis, and best practices.

Thanks to Tracy’s experience in change management, she saw the value of the accountability-related frameworks and tools right away. “Culture Partners grounded us in the fundamentals and provided us with guidance and advice in the first year of our culture journey. Afterwards, we were able to continue embedding related changes in different processes, including every touchpoint from hire to retire.”

Greater Accountability Drives Better Results

While earlier consultants had recommended specific process-related changes to improve operations, dealing with the root cause of problems in workplace culture is when the company began to see things shift significantly.

“By taking this approach, we were able to successfully shift behavior and create the types of employee experiences that not only encouraged speaking up, but recognized and rewarded it,” confirms Tracy.

At the same time, the company saw other benefits:

  • A 14-point improvement in YoY engagement, unheard of when experiencing only a 5-point improvement was considered high at the time
  • A corresponding drop in unwanted attrition
  • Increased customer renewals in Y2, with increased sales and organic growth in Y3.

“As a client, the practicality of the models and the brain science behind them are what really attracted me to Culture Partners,” says Tracy. “Both the approach to accountability and the frameworks align with how the brain works and what motivates people. This helped our employees understand why they needed to do things differently.”

Tracy took that knowledge and understanding with her to other companies. And today, as a senior culture strategist at Culture Partners, she’s helping other organization successfully embed culture change.

“Culture can be a multiplier or a detractor in an organization,” says Tracy. “All the recent shifts to more virtual and remote work have changed employee expectations, making the employee experience a key differentiator. So, if you want to have motivated and passionate workers, create conditions where they can thrive. And the way to do that is through culture.”

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