Ditch the Drama and Create a Culture of Cooperation, Care, and Consistency: A Roundtable Recap

Today’s marketing conversations are often dominated by product cycles, sales funnels, customer acquisition campaigns and customer experience, often leaving little time (and mental energy) to focus on company culture. Adding to that, most executives and leaders are simply not instructed or incentivized to create a happy working culture within their team and organization, so many individuals are not prepared or ready for it.

However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that culture is the engine that drives our organizations - for better or worse.

While leading a Virtual Roundtable on the topic, S. Chris Edmonds, Founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group and author of The Culture Engine, pointed out that managing results is only HALF of a leader’s job. The other half is managing values and how people treat each other in the workplace!

Check your cultural pulse: What’s getting measured?

When starting a conversation about team culture, looking at how performance is measured, monitored and rewarded is a great place to understand how you are – or could be – inspiring your team to perform at their best.

The challenge here is that the easiest things to measure – sales, conversions, etc – are not always the most effective things to measure, or are just one piece. Furthermore, for most members, broad organizational performance is what is usually incentivized within their teams.

So, as leaders, how can we balance out individual and organizational incentives to make sure everyone has goals that are being met? According to the numbers, there is plenty of room to improve.

During the roundtable discussion, members cited a daily dashboard from Gallup measuring daily US worker engagement around 35% (meaning more than half of your team is likely not feeling engaged in the work they are doing). Workers across the planet hover at a paltry 13%. Reflecting engagement numbers, Tiny Pulse, found that only 21% of employees feel strongly valued at work.

Be honest: To what degree do leaders and team members in your organization treat each other with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction?

Adding to our aforementioned numbers, voluntary separations have been on the rise since 2007. Before the recession, people stuck around in positions they didn’t enjoy or like because of a tough economy. However, those trends are shifting and brands must prioritize conversations around employee retention and culture in order to thrive.

At the end of the day, we are all humans, but as leaders, it’s important to take notice of the times where tension will naturally build between members and teams. In the marketing role, not everyone’s role is as black and white as other positions. When it comes to accountability, ‘fair’ can be rather subjective as well.

Most businesses have black and white performance expectations that are very clear, but in marketing, there are so many other activities that relate to the metrics, but everyone’s role is not as directly measurable and creates numerous gray areas.

  • Are there formally defined organizational values?
  • Where are they?
  • Are people are being held accountable for these values?
  • Do you have a team of ‘benchmark stars’ who give credit where credit is due, pull their weight and really set the culture and tone of the team?
  • As a leader and entire executive, does your team trust you? Loyalty to a CMO or Director can drive performance and culture.

 Edwards argued that values need to be as vitally important as results within an organization. So, how do you make values – like respect, fun and a good attitude measurable?

The Performance-Values Matrix

When you start to hold people accountable for both cultural behavior AND performance, it changes the dynamic of your company. Here’s an objective way to measure the input of each employee (and yourself), standardizing the process for evaluation and seeing who stands out as top performers.

Upper Right: Ideal Performers. These people have high performance and high values and are the rockstars on a team. One thing to remember here, though, is that they will reduce drama in the workplace, but they won’t reduce conflict. Conflict, after all, is a good thing when done respectfully.

Bottom Right: High values, but low performance. These people may be the ‘corporate sweethearts’ but, unfortunately, you must remember that everyone needs to contribute to the performance of the team. A solution may be to train them, adjust roles or – lovingly – set them free to find a place where their skills are a better match.

Bottom Left: Low values, low performance. This should be the easiest one of all quadrants – lovingly set them free. However, for most teams, it takes longer than it should to make the move. Just remember that you aren’t helping either party by keeping these people on board.

Upper Left: Low values, high performance. Moving back to the upper quadrant, this is perhaps the hardest situation to deal with. The numbers are good and on paper, this person is a top member of your team. But in person….no so much. “Poison” is how one might describe this square on the graph, because it’s where most team and company drama stems from. However, because they are killing it in terms of performance, there are no consequences for not living the brand values. Unfortunately, if you’ve tried to approach this person and work out the values system with no luck, it may be time to lovingly let them go as well.

This is a hard evaluation, no doubt, but that makes it all the more important. If you involve your team in the process and provide this graph for them to self-evaluate, you may be surprised though. People often want to improve within themselves and their roles, and this gives low-performance individuals an opportunity to step up to bat and proactively ask how they can improve. Likewise, it gives your low values matches an opportunity to think about if they are really in the best place for them. Done effectively, this can lead to 40% growth in engagement, 40% gains in service, 35% growth in results in 18 months!