Are you and your leadership team working overtime to implement value-added services into your customer experience journey? How about a unique process to better diagnose the risks facing your clients? Or formulating a game plan to attract new producers? If you are doing one or more, you should be commended. However, your best strategy to drive growth, profitability, and value may involve your corporate culture.
So, what is culture? And why is this mysterious word so important to you? Corporate culture is a set of values and principles that show up in the everyday behavior of your people. In many ways, culture is like personality. In a person, the personality is made up of one’s actions, attitudes, values, beliefs, interests, experiences, and habits that create behavior. In an organization, culture involves values, behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, and underlying assumptions shared by a group of people. Culture is the outcome of a set of rules for working together and is so powerful that it shapes your work environment, business relationships and, ultimately, how you serve your customer.
Research substantiates that corporate culture impacts every aspect of organizational performance.
A few of the central characteristics about culture introduced by Professors Ken Thompson (DePaul University) and Fred Luthans (University of Nebraska) highlight the following:
- Culture = Behavior. Culture is best seen through the behaviors that represent the general operating norms of an organization.
- Culture is Learned. Employees will adopt and perform behaviors when reinforced from those from whom they receive guidance, direction, and reinforcement.
- Culture is Learned through Interaction. Employees learn culture through interacting with management and other associates.
- Culture Requires People to Adopt a Set of Behaviors. The leadership team of an organization must demonstrate consistency, persistence, employee involvement, kindness, understanding and training.
Over the past 12 years, Beyond Insurance has collected over 8,000 responses to its Organic Growth Agency Survey. One question states, “Our staff is enthusiastic and energized by our business model, systems, and growth strategies.” 34% of the respondents “agree”; 4% are “uncertain”; and 52% “disagree”. This simple question touches on the essence of corporate culture. High-performing organic growth agencies “agree” to this question, while under-performing agencies are “uncertain” or “disagree.”
Beyond Insurance has concluded that organizational growth, profitability, and agency value are maximized in an environment of enlightened leaders who create a culture of creativity and innovation. They “get the right people on the bus” and inspire their staff through clearly stated values and expected behaviors supported by rituals.
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