How Company Culture Drives Performance

Provide your employees with opportunities to learn and grow, while giving them a sense of purpose and a view of their potential, and watch them move mountains.

A few years ago, the Harvard Business Review released an article explaining how company culture shapes employee motivation, but the information is becoming even more relevant. The HBR attended a strategy meeting with a Fortune-500 company and the word “culture” came up 27 times in 90 minutes. Obviously business leaders in large organizations understand the importance of a strong company culture, but far too often, the culture shared by higher ups is very seldom felt at the associate level.

The HBR surveyed thousands of workers from all around the world and came to one conclusion: Why we work determines how well we work. This seems incredibly simple and obvious, but how often do we really take this into consideration? This is why it is crucial for executives and managers to have a vision and communicate that vision well. If your employees are lacking motivation, or growth is stagnate, do some reflecting on the company culture, and adjust if needed.

According to the article, the six main reasons people work are: play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. The first three are found to increase performance, and the last three have been found to minimize performance.

The article states:

  • Play is when you are motivated by the work itself. You work because you enjoy it. A teacher at play enjoys the core activities of teaching — creating lesson plans, grading tests, or problem solving how to break through to each student. Play is our learning instinct, and it’s tied to curiosity, experimentation, and exploring challenging problems.
  • Purpose is when the direct outcome of the work fits your identity. You work because you value the work’s impact. For example, a teacher driven by purpose values or identifies with the goal of educating and empowering children.
  • Potential is when the outcome of the work benefits your identity. In other words, the work enhances your potential. For example, a teacher with potential may be doing his job because he eventually wants to become a principal.

Since these three motives are directly connected to the work itself in some way, you can think of them as direct motives. They will improve performance to different degrees. Indirect motives, however, tend to reduce it.

  • Emotional pressure is when you work because some external force threatens your identity. If you’ve ever used guilt to compel a loved one to do something, you’ve inflicted emotional pressure. Fear, peer pressure, and shame are all forms of emotional pressure. When you do something to avoid disappointing yourself or others, you’re acting on emotional pressure. This motive is completely separate from the work itself.
  • Economic pressure is when an external force makes you work. You work to gain a reward or avoid a punishment. Now the motive is not only separate from the work itself, it is also separate from your identity.
  • Finally, inertia is when the motive is so far removed from the work and your identity that you can’t identify why you’re working. When you ask someone why they are doing their work, and they say, “I don’t know; I’m doing it because I did it yesterday and the day before,” that signals inertia. It is still a motive because you’re still actually doing the activity, you just can’t explain why.

If you take all these factors into account, you can work directly with those motives to motivate employees. Provide your employees with opportunities to learn and grow, while giving them a sense of purpose and a view of their potential, and watch them move mountains.

Read the full article here

How Company Culture Shapes Employee Motivation

In a recent strategy meeting we attended with the leaders of a Fortune-500 company, the word “culture” came up 27 times in 90 minutes. Business leaders believe a strong organizational culture is critical to success, yet culture tends to feel like some magic force that few know how to control.