A Culture Compass Charting Your Pathway to Peak Performance

For most of my career, I’ve been a “monomaniac on a mission” about integrating change and development efforts within a systemic culture development process. Way too much money and time has been wasted with isolated programs that don’t provide broader context, support, and follow-through. Decades of our experience and countless research studies show the power of built-in culture change.

Transformation Pathways to Built-In Culture Change

Over the last few decades, research on the key elements of top-performing organizations has increased dramatically. When I wrote Firing on all Cylinders, organization effectiveness frameworks focused on service and quality improvement and were just developing in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Europe, and other countries. The book’s “cylinders” framework drew from that research, and the work our consulting companies (The Achieve Group and Zenger Miller) were doing at that time.

By the time I wrote Pathways to Performance, organizational excellence research had grown and broadened further. As we helped Clients with their culture development efforts, we merged those experiences with continuing organizational effectiveness research to evolve our Transformation Pathways assessment and implementation framework.


Balancing Management and Leadership

We use our compass model during many Leadership Team Retreats for assessment and implementation planning. The model pulls together a series of “transformation pathways” to prioritize and map short and longer-term leadership and culture development strategies. This framework balances management processes and systems with leadership behaviors and skills.

How’s your team/organization doing across these six key areas? You can click on any sub-topic for an overview and options to drill deeper:

Focus and Context

Customers & Partners

Strategy & Direction

Measures & Rewards

Processes & Systems

Learning & Development

Click on Organization Self-Assessment and Gap Analysis if you’d like to assess your current performance and rank improvement urgency for each of the topic areas. This gives you total gap points to determine your top priorities in your improvement journey. This is an especially powerful process for leadership team members to do individually and then aggregate scores for team development and planning.

If you or your team would like further context and applications for this assessment and planning tool, you can review my Leading a Peak Performance Culture webinar.

Culture Change Pathways and Pitfalls

Here are a few time-tested keys to culture development:

  • “True North” on the compass is set by customers and partners — continuous monitoring of external customers’ expectations to rank-order priorities and indicators for each internal team in the customer-partner chain.
  • The center of the compass starts with the central focus and context questions; Where are we going (our picture of our preferred future or outcome); What do we believe in (our guiding values or principles?); Why do we exist (our reason for being, mission, or purpose)?
  • The journey rises or falls on the behaviors of the senior leadership team. The team’s dynamics and behaviors boost or block the transformation process.
  • Leaders at all levels and support staff flip the organization chart to serve the frontline producers and deliverers. This drives performance feedback, measurement processes, strategies, budgets, etc.
  • Continuous learning, feedback, and courageous conversations reduce the moose and dangers of smothering silence.
  • Hiring, orientation, and promotion practices reflect the culture’s desired values and behaviors.
  • Extensive and wide-scale continuous skill-building equips and enables everyone to lead and support the improvement process.
  • Team and individual reward and recognition processes and practices need to be aligned to reinforce culture values. Click here for best practices to energize and not enervate.
  • Establish 3 or 4 Strategic Imperatives. Form an implementation team for each Strategic Imperative with an owner, team leader (sometimes the same person), and team members. Give each team a broad mandate and direction to return in a few weeks within the broad scope of an implementation plan.

Teaching a pig to sing wastes time and annoys the pig. There’s a vast array of piecemeal programs for improving customer service, employee engagement, building agile organizations, rebranding, leadership development, coaching skills, change management, automation/AI, etc.

While not quite at the same level of futility as a pig whistling, many try to “development dip” participants in bolt-on piecemeal programs. They’re trying to overcome the truism of continuing to do the same things in daily operations while expecting different results.

The post A Culture Compass Charting Your Pathway to Peak Performance appeared first on The Clemmer Group.

For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations. Check out www.clemmergroup.com for upcoming webinars and workshops.

Website: http://www.clemmergroup.com

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