Culture: Performance or Growth?
Over the past seven years, the description in management literature of what makes for successful organizational cultures has evolved tremendously.
Performance driven cultures were regarded as ideal and were therefore the dominant force. More recently however, there has been a major shift and the growth culture approach is gaining more adoption.
Organizational culture can be defined as a belief system on which people base their behavior.
Performance is top priority in performance driven cultures and the focus is on dedication, goals, and results. It is no surprise that C-suite executives preferred this approach since it created quick short term results in the form of revenues and/or increased efficiency.
Ironically, on the long term, performance driven cultures are likely to drain employees emotionally, increase turnover, and are relatively prone to creating hostility amongst colleagues.
At its best, the growth culture approach is one that allows for employees feel safe, be open about acknowledging their own shortcomings, and the focus is on developing capabilities which implies collaboration to unleash potential.
Growth cultures cannot be described as contradictory to performance driven cultures. The fact is that performance is as important in both scenarios. The main difference is the emphasis on the human element in a growth culture where fear is not the main driver of performance, failure is regarded as safe, experimentation is accepted (and sometimes encouraged), and learning is achieved through open and constructive feedback.
Why does a growth culture have long term positive impact? Simply because it caters to our human nature. Pushing for constant and increasing challenges while disregarding human limitations and predispositions and doing so without reassurance breaks people down. Fear-based performance cultures are often not sustainable since employees will eventually feel overwhelmed and disengage as a result.
“Good leadership requires you to surround yourself with people of diverse perspectives who can disagree with you without fear of retaliation “ – Doris Kearns Goodwin