Company culture influences the roles and responsibilities of every employee within the organization, from executive leadership down to the front lines. A strong, healthy company culture drives productivity and raises profitability, and disengaged employees cost companies billions, yet many executives rarely associate their culture with their bottom line.
Today, employee engagement stakes are higher than ever because executives have to consider the impact their company culture has on external stakeholders as well. Investors, consumers, and even the government are now interested in whether the organizations they do business with have values that align with theirs and demonstrate behaviors that match those values.
Executive leadership must define company culture and understand how to implement it and, ultimately, measure and improve it. In From CULTURE to CULTURE, Dr. Donte Vaughn and Randall Powers introduce their culture performance management methodology and present a behavior-driven system to operationalize company culture and increase employee engagement. I recently caught up with the duo to learn more about their journey with this book.
What happened that made you decide to author the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
Donte: Randall and I had unique experiences when it came to our idea surrounding what we called “operationalizing” how business leaders approach managing their company culture. We both recognized a significant challenge in the marketplace – both in the way business leaders viewed company culture, and the fact that there was no formal methodology and system to Define, Implement, Measure, and Improve company culture.
For me, I spent over 15 years in various roles of leadership while also traveling the path of Academia as a student, researcher, and professor. What I found is, scholars and business leaders alike struggled to understand the depth of impact that company culture has on business—specifically struggling to comprehend interconnectivity between how and why leaders engage, interact, and make decisions in a business, and the impact that these decisions have on performance results of individuals.
Everyone was consciously, or subconsciously, in search of a better solution – and when I met Randall back in 2017 while working in partnership with his team on a project, our paths collided, and we shared our collective vision for how we could impact the lives of leaders and their employees through helping them connect as a strategic pillar to organizations success and sustainability. This is what has now become the Culture Performance Management (CPM) methodology and system for doing so.
Randall: We were partnered with one of the largest private companies and saw first-hand their standard off-the-shelf attempts to increase employee engagement, inclusion, and retention were not producing any improvements, even after several years. Their solution to this failure was to keep doing the same things, just at a more frequent level.
This is when we knew they did not have a better solution. A meaningful solution that produced the result they wanted. This was the moment, in 2014, we decided to write a book to share our solution, our Cultural Performance Methodology (CPM), to help those companies who were also challenged to increase their employee engagement, and improve the quality and effectiveness of their leadership culture.
What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?
Donte: My favorite and most actionable aspect of the book is captured in our articulation of the 7 Pillars of Culture Performance Management outlined in Chapter 2 of the book: Select, Define, Connect, Learn, Practice, Measure, and Refine.
Our explanation of the seven pillars of CPM provides a simplified framework by which business leaders can align their organization’s core company values, with specific and actionable leadership behaviors that can be practiced, evaluated, and measured in real-time, to drive immediate improvement in how leaders engage, interact, and make decisions. The ultimate objective is to foster short-interval and continuous improvement of one’s company culture.
Randall: My favorite specific step of our CPM process is the defining of the specific leadership behaviors that demonstrate each of the company values.
For example, if a company has a company cultural Value of Trust, our CPM process will require a definition of the specific behaviors you expect to see that demonstrate and produce, real Trust between people. This becomes actionable when these defined trusting behaviors are specifically applied to each cultural connection and interaction at the right time, and in the right way, measured and improved.
What’s a story of how you’ve applied this idea in your own life? What’s it done for you?
Donte: When you consider the premise of short-interval, perpetual, continuous improvement – this is what being a leader in your personal life is all about! What mobilizes me in my life is rooted in the core values that shape how I personally behave and interact with the individuals in my life and inform how I make decisions.
As I reflect on outcomes from the decisions I make in my life, I measure those outcomes and assess if I am aligned with what influenced my actions and decisions and if I need to ‘course correct’ when faced with a similar opportunity to make an in the future. I believe maneuvering through life is all about working every day to be better and do better in a manner that can have a lasting impact on the lives of others along the way.
Randall: Four years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to “be a better Husband”. Let me first say, I am not one to usually make these resolutions. But I wanted to do my part in establishing a better relationship with my wife. So, I specifically identified some behaviors to execute every day. For example, turn my clothes inside-out before putting them in the laundry hamper. Take my wife coffee every morning, when I am home. Make sure I allow her to finish saying whatever she is saying before I jump in and speak. Make sure I show my appreciation by saying thank you for all the small things she does. There are others, but this should suffice.
This literally transformed our marriage within the year, so much so, my wife asked me to have the same resolution the following year. What I did not expect was they she ended up doing the exact same thing I was doing, just from her perspective. Amazing result.