A “Culture” Tale

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The Impact of Culture in a Crisis

What difference does culture make in a crisis? Actually, it makes a huge difference. Consider real-life examples:

The backdrop is the Coronavirus Crisis and how it impacted two client companies. Both companies are production environments. Each employs office and production floor workers. Both fall into categories that our State Governor (at that point) publicly urged to stay open and maintain operations.

At the first company, we had worked six months with the CEO to engage a broad cross section of employees to establish a values-based organizational culture. Building, on that foundation, the CEO then brought his executive team together to align on mission, vision and values, and to establish an accountability culture where everyone walks the talk and lives out the values on a daily basis, evidenced by their behaviors.  As long as they were permitted by government mandate to continue manufacturing, the employees willingly reported for work and worked diligently together to find creative ways to maintain full operations, within restrictions imposed by social distancing.

In contrast, our second exhibit is a company where we worked 1:1 with the CEO. While the CEO said he benefited from the Values-Based Leadership executive coaching experience, he did not directly engage his executive team in the VBL philosophy, nor did he firmly establish a values-based culture in the organization, i.e. moving values off the wall and into the hearts and minds of employees.  Apparently, in response to risks associated with the virus, this company’s workforce aggressively confronted management, criticizing expectations that they report for work during the crisis. Exasperated, the CEO sent the workforce home. 

The lesson:  influence employee behavior, and ultimately business results, by the cultural environment they intentionally establish. While it takes effort and focus to create a values-based environment, it definitely is worth the effort. Why? Because, cultures based on values produce high-trust environments that bond employees to the company’s purpose and desired behaviors, thereby driving higher performance.

At TAI we guarantee client satisfaction because we know – and clients have demonstrated – that values govern behavior and behavior determines performance. It’s that simple… and it pays off big in a crisis.

Have you established a values-based culture at your organization?

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