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A winning culture is still too often seen as a ‘nice-to-have’ corporate asset, yet in its 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report, 86 percent of survey participants told Deloitte culture was an important or very important issue. The report also found: “After three years of struggling to drive employee engagement and retention, improve leadership, and build a meaningful culture, executives see a need to redesign the organization itself, with 92 percent of survey participants rating this as a critical priority.”

We asked executives what their leadership teams were doing to create a winning culture.

What Are the Elements of a Winning Culture?

Bain & Company partner Michael Mankins identified seven “performance attributes” that go into creating a winning culture:

  1. Honesty
  2. Performance-focused
  3. Accountable and owner-like
  4. Collaborative
  5. Agile and adaptive
  6. Innovative
  7. Oriented toward winning

Focus on Performance-Based Challenges and Solutions

Mikael Thuneberg, founder and CEO at marketing add-on provider Supermetrics, said one of the cultural challenges Supermetrics and its customers face involves an inability to be performance-based in terms of data analysis and reporting. “Manually fetching data from one source for reporting or analysis is boring, error-prone and time-consuming,” Thuneberg said.

He explained how the company embraces a culture that is performance-focused, whereby it harnesses the full potential of technology to lighten the employee and customer’s workload, providing them with the necessary tools to become more effective and results-driven.

The company recognizes the need to help employees and customers to automate boring repetitive tasks and free up time to focus on what matters most — analysis and making better decisions. This also increases productivity within Supermetrics as well as for its customers. Supermetrics believes a winning culture should strive to automate manual repetitive tasks, whenever possible. “It saves time, money, and makes people more engaged in their work,” said Thuneberg.

Related Article: A Performance Management Plan to Nurture Your Company's Growth

Increase Productivity Through Improved Collaboration

Itai Sadan is CEO of Duda, maker of a website builder. He said in his experience, companies frequently encounter many challenges around productivity when dealing with the various components in the processes of web design, website building and client management. “Jumping between multiple tools to access the appropriate data during the design process, sharing assets across an entire team, and communicating back and forth with customers during the different phases of the customer lifecycle can slow down site builds for us,” said Sadan.

Duda is a proponent of creating a winning culture through collaboration to help address these challenges. This collaborative effort helps web designers, content collectors, QA folks, and customers improve deliverables more efficiently, effectively and successfully. Through their experience in closely working with their own customers, Sadan said, “We’ve learned that when we zero in on the needs of a specific type of customer (in this case, agencies), we allow ourselves as software providers to tailor a unique and differentiated solution to that customer.” This client-needs focus helps Duda create a stronger collaborative win-win culture.

Related Article: The Collaboration Community's Big Dirty Productivity Secret

Honesty, Accountability and Owner-Like Behavior

At beauty product provider Maple Holistics, Nate Masterson said the company faced cultural challenges around translating its marketing messages in international markets. He said collaboration was key in making this work well, as was creating consistency among teams and in maintaining their strong brand.

Maple Holistics’ leadership ensured accountability by mandating collaboration. “Whether via shared documents and files over G-Suite, regularly scheduled progress-meetings, or otherwise, our executives played an active, hands-on role in ensuring that we know what our goals were and how we were going to achieve them,” said Masterson. The company resolves issues in closed-door meetings and any disagreements or mistakes that take place during marketing campaigns are quickly addressed via open and honest meetings to get to the root of the problem. This increases the chances that all employees can be challenged and motivated to become ‘owners’ and more accountable for their output.

Michael Pötscher, CMO at travel booking website TourRadar, said as companies are growing rapidly, hiring talented people who also help keep a positive culture going is essential. The TourRadar leadership team puts a major focus on culture throughout meetings, interviews and everyday work life. Pötscher said, “We began implementing buddy chats where we set aside time for people to talk to someone in a different office to learn more about them and what they do." Along with this, the company allocates a budget for monthly events for each area to do an activity together to develop personal relationships. 

TourRadar’s CEO and co-founder, Travis Pittman, plays an active role in the culture by sitting in on interviews and ensuring culture-style questions are a key part of the process. The company has even implemented a system in each office where a laptop is constantly running a livestream so that while people are making a coffee, they can have a conversation with someone in a different office who’s doing the same thing.

When companies make a conscious effort to focus on having honest communication, increasing collaboration, being performance-focused, innovative, accountable, and adaptable, creating a winning culture becomes moves beyond lip-service to a real possibility.