Organizations struggling to hit major targets or objectives often find that their problems are rooted in culture. On the other hand, companies that have established positive workplace cultures focused on learning, communication, and productive problem-solving set themselves up for a high performance culture and success.
Look to Redstone Federal Credit Union for evidence. Comparing the three years prior to its cultural initiative in 2015 to the three years post-deployment, loans grew by 1,052%, average annual non-interest income grew by 55%, and average annual total member giveback (excluding dividends) grew by 1,179%. The credit union has since taken home award after award, most notably being named Credit Union of the Year from the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU). Other huge wins included the Overall Platinum Award for Best Achievement in Organizational Operational Excellence, winning over all other global category winners. The company attributes its phenomenal growth to its cultural transformation.
To reach new heights like this requires leaders to shape a culture founded on three essential and interconnected elements.
1. An Environment of Continuous Development
Emphasizing continuous development is paramount to innovation and creative thinking. Learning keeps employees thinking ahead, open to new ideas and solutions, and more confident in taking calculated risks—just the type of thinking that leads to great discoveries. That’s why Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) are a mainstay of successful organizations’ C-suites.
Foster a learning-centric environment by leading with passion, equipping employees to find their own creative solutions, and encouraging dialogue across teams and departments. Employees in “learning mode” are always asking themselves and others how to improve products and services, increase process efficiency, and elevate the organization one step at a time.
2.Clear and Consistent Workplace Communication
Poor communication leads to myriad problems, like the dreaded blame game: a widespread culture of finger-pointing and lack of accountability. Finger-pointing creates tension, mistrust, and impedes progress, fueling the communication breakdown further.
Thriving companies, on the other hand, establish open communication and feedback loops that spark curiosity and build trust. Employees who work within an organization that welcomes two-way feedback exchanges—rather than one in which feedback is one-way and viewed as a punitive measure—take accountability for achieving the company’s topline priorities. Clear communication breaks down barriers that can stymie creativity and effective problem-solving, focusing every employee on achieving success.
3. Organization-Wide Commitment to Key Results
Some organizations expend energy and expenses on short-term solutions, expecting desired “big picture” results to materialize. But here’s the hard truth: there is no quick fix to culture.
A consistent failure to achieve objectives or complete projects on time often reflects a deeper misunderstanding or apathy among employees about what they are working towards in the long term. This is why leaders must focus on clearly defining and creating a culture of commitment to Key Results: the three to five meaningful, measurable, and memorable organizational objectives that every employee should be working towards.
Great leaders reinforce a culture of success every single day. This means demonstrating a personal commitment to learning, keeping communication clear and consistent, demonstrating ownership of problems, and focusing on Key Results. This consistent, proactive approach to leadership will lay the groundwork for a sustainable, high performance culture.