29 March 2023

How To Foster High-Performing Cultures

10 Critical Levers of Corporate Culture

Among the changes we’ve seen in our client work over the last year is a shift in focus from employee experience (EX) to culture – perhaps the most critical and intangible aspect of EX.

We’ve had an upturn in the number of Leadership development and Values development and activation projects, often driven by a need to anticipate further disruption to the working landscape. Employees are fatigued by change and HR professionals are prioritising readiness for change to mitigate further negative impacts (Source: Gartner).  

We welcome this focus. As former Chair and CEO of IBM Lou Gerstner said, “culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game.” And Leadership is a key lever of culture.

But starting with Leadership gives us only one perspective on culture. 

Identify employee behaviours

If, as Harvey Golbderg said, culture is what you tolerate, then another useful approach is to identify critical positive and negative behaviours and survey our people to understand group averages and how individuals over or under index against these behaviours.

Behaviours are symptomatic of culture and while we might want to reach for dimensions which describe the culture itself – eg. collectivistic versus individualistic, or innovative versus conservative – symptoms are useful enough for our purposes; if we understand the symptoms we can at least address them.

But once you have that understanding, how do you foster high-performing behaviours? Starting with Leadership at least gives us a focus for our efforts, but there’s more we could and should be considering, and more action we can be taking.

Our thinking in this space is driven by a need to produce a wide range of actionable recommendations to our clients. In thinking beyond behaviours, we have a number of useful models to refer to, in particular Josh Levine’s excellent work and his 6 Components of Culture.

McCann Synergy Culture Audit

We have identified 10 Levers of Culture which inform our Culture Audit. These levers comprise aspects of EX which we believe to be most influential on culture.

Using these levers as the basis of our Culture Audit means that we have an immediately actionable ‘diagnosis’ of culture, with clarity on where we should focus resources in order to foster the culture that’s right for your organisation.

Our 10 Levers of Corporate Culture:
  1. Purpose, Vision, Values
  2. Leadership and Influence
  3. Social Responsibility and Ethics
  4. Process and Policy
  5. Learning and Development
  6. Communication
  7. Recognition and Reward
  8. Wellbeing
  9. Environment
  10. Routines and Rituals

Our culture audit starts with a simple, free, and fun to use online survey which you can share with your colleagues to get an aggregated snapshot of their experience across all 10 levers. Find out more about our Culture Audit and get in touch to arrange your free culture snapshot survey.

Joe Hoppard, Head of Strategy

Our people unleashing the power of your people

Joe is driven by a fundamental belief that business is better for everyone when people are happy, healthy, and engaged. With a focus on effectiveness, Joe’s short-term goal is to help improve measurement across all client work to better demonstrate return on investment, whilst inspiring teams towards delivering highly effective solutions.



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