To implement and maintain a culture of excellence, you must prepare teams for changes, tight-knit collaboration and a focus on long-term results. Otherwise, the efforts, time and resources you invested in creating a thriving organizational vision might not be enough.
by Keith Keating
December 9, 2021
When starting your business, you aim for success, stellar results, and to make a difference. After all, no one dares to turn their vision into reality only to see it crumble. Mediocrity is never an option. Yet, if your team isn’t cohesive and eager to go the extra mile, your organizational vision might not be enough.
High-performing employees are essential for business success and customer satisfaction. But these rock-star workers aren’t a coincidence nor pure luck. You can’t expect a happy workforce that completes their tasks efficiently without building a culture of excellence that encourages intrinsic motivation.
Developing this kind of corporate culture can be challenging, and you might go through a difficult path while establishing it. Yet, these hardships could make your business more resilient and employees more loyal to your organization and committed to its mission. However, if your efforts aren’t delivering the results you expected, your culture of excellence might be failing.
What is a culture of excellence?
A culture of excellence is all-encompassing, complex and unified vision of a company that goes beyond the values and missions each organization has. In a nutshell, it provides a capacity that empowers workers and enables them to expand their potential and focus on achieving stellar results.
Building a stable culture of excellence is crucial for switching from mediocre to exceptional performance and outcomes. However, that often requires demanding a shift and upgrading your corporate culture.
It’s necessary to strive for greatness and avoid short-term objectives to achieve that. Create an engaging work environment that motivates employees to generate innovative ideas and immerse in their work. Otherwise, you risk fostering a workforce that settles for being average.
Instead of investing resources and energy into a culture that centers around problem-solving, provide your teams with relevant skills and the mindset that drives them to reach the desired goals.
The principal traits of a culture of excellence
1. A meaningful and clear vision that conveys the right message
Many business leaders think it’s enough to include the organizational vision in an employee handbook or state it on a company’s website. Yet, that makes it easy to overlook, misunderstand or forget the statement.
Every hire must understand the full scope of this vision, their job roles, obligations and actions they should take to bring it to life. Employees shouldn’t have any doubt concerning their contribution to the bigger picture.
2. A sense of purpose
One critical element that ensures a culture of excellence endures is providing staff with a sense of purpose. They should know their effort is significant and has meaning.
Hence, employees should all work towards a common objective because it inspires them and reminds them how they impact the company and the world. If they understand the purpose of their assignments and targets, they’ll continuously nurture an inner drive that motivates them to take action.
3. Focus on high performance
Although you might think it’s better to center your efforts around solving problems and tweaking unsuccessful strategies, that could be a shortcut to stimulating mediocrity.
Managers often concentrate on finding solutions to issues low performers cause and tend to forget rockstar employees and reward their work. These high-performers often quit due to not receiving the deserving appreciation and acknowledgment.
However, companies with a thriving culture of excellence are clear about their expectations and encourage high performance across every department and level. Hence, the upper management provides equal support to all employees, motivating them to develop expertise and become experts in what they do.
Thanks to that, high-performing workers receive the necessary nourishment, mentorship and rewards. On the other hand, those that start with average skills and knowledge are coached to improve and reach the high-performance level. That creates a culture where one either has to excel and reach their full potential or leave.
To stay afloat, an organization has to keep accomplishing its targets despite the adversities. Yet, many companies lose focus when changes and challenges occur. Employees become distracted and stray away from the organizational vision.
But if there’s a stable culture of excellence in an organization, the staff will have the necessary adaptability and resilience to handle uncertainty and difficulties. Moreover, they develop an unyielding motivation to endure, even when problems seem to be impossible to solve.
That happens because the organizational vision is clear and compelling, encouraging employees to face discomfort and challenges and fight for the common objective. Managers play a significant role in this process, as the ones who track team progress and support every employee.
5. Stellar team collaboration
In a workplace with a thriving culture of excellence, teammates don’t see each other as competition. Instead, they share their knowledge, ideas and expertise.
As a result, they work together toward goals and collaborate with other departments to finish their projects faster. The upper management must encourage and reward team collaboration, ensuring no one feels over-protective over their assignments or job position.
Companies with an unyielding culture of excellence never settle for average results or outmoded solutions. Instead, they foster teams that can generate innovative ideas. Because of that, their workplaces ooze with positive energy and intense drive that motivate employees to explore and try new approaches.
But what if, despite establishing these qualities, a company’s culture of excellence is failing?
The six reasons why your culture of excellence might be failing
Marta-Christina Suciu, a researcher and economics professor, identified six key reasons why your culture of excellence might not be giving the desired results.
1. A focus on short-term goals
If your business continuously centers around short-term objectives, such as maximizing profits, that could imperil your culture of excellence. Instead, focus on a long-term vision that can provide a sustainable competitive advantage and achievements.
Promote a culture of excellence across your whole organization and foster lasting and accelerated performances. As a result, teams will go beyond immediate short-term outcomes and direct their work toward long-lasting change and improvements. Even when you set goals for a short period, strive for excellent results and positive impacts that stay for a long time.
2. Ineffective training
The most common reason leadership development fails is due to skills-based leadership programs not being enough. If the leadership teams already lack willingness, focus and confidence, they’ll unlikely take responsibility for their performance, as well as for their team’s results.
Hence, they must alter their attitude and take control over their actions. Leadership should also strengthen their own soft skills to ensure they can lead the change and their employees.
3. Disconnected teams
Teamwork is among the pillars of a culture of excellence. Teammates and their connections play a significant role in establishing trust, stellar communication and interdependence instead of independence.
Companies that encourage employees to be independent risk little sharing of information and ideas. Contrary to that, they should nurture a culture of interdependence that allows teammates to communicate freely, solve problems and go towards organizational goals together.
4. Lack of employee engagement
When employees aren’t actively passionate about their work and results, they’ll struggle to support the organization in maintaining long-term success, sustainability and competitiveness. Hence, leaders must foster skills that help them enhance the performance of their teams and increase engagement.
Moreover, they should coach their employees, instill trust and bolster their confidence. As a result, leaders will refocus from solving minor issues to leading motivated teams that understand the company vision and strive for business excellence.
5. Incomplete understanding of the process
Before deciding to implement or reinforce a culture of excellence, ensure everyone within the organization understands what that means and what actions to take. For many companies, that’s still uncharted territory.
It’s crucial to raise awareness and explain how a culture of excellence benefits everyone in the company and what each individual should do to help foster it. Otherwise, your processes could lack structure and efficiency, resulting in disappointing results.
6. Unwillingness to change
The pandemic has shown it’s essential to adapt to change with ease. That is critical for a thriving culture of excellence because it requires resilience and continuous growth.
If your company fails to implement continuous employee development and prepare employees to operate in an ever-changing business landscape, they might settle for average outcomes. Everyone must understand the paramount importance of a culture of excellence and its advantages.