Truly great cultures are different because they are loaded with star team leaders. You might ask, “Gallup, over your 40 years of studying lousy-to-great cultures, have you found a silver bullet?” Our Chief Workplace Scientist Jim Harter would answer, “Yes, the silver bullet is your managers (team leaders).” They, by themselves, determine if you have a lousy, good or great culture. They are the silver bullet.
Remarkably, 70% of the variance between lousy, good and great cultures can be found in the knowledge, skills and talent of the team leader. Not the players, but the team leader. This is one of Gallup’s most profound workplace breakthroughs.
So you say, “What exactly do you recommend?” Our answer is, it depends on where your culture is today. If it’s lousy, you should start over. Get out a clean canvas and announce you are reorganizing the whole company.
If you have a solid, “good” culture, you should significantly re-engineer it with all the best breakthroughs, tools and learnings.
If you actually have a great culture now, you can — believe it or not — boom it even higher above the lousy-to-good workplaces. For whatever reason, the great cultures seem to benefit more from new dynamic processes. For instance, great companies got more benefits, more quickly from Six Sigma and lean management than lousy cultures, where these methods basically didn’t work.
Gallup recommends, first, change your team’s leadership philosophy from the current command-and-control to one of high development, high purpose and strengths-based coaching. If you do these three things well, you will immediately experience more innovation and entrepreneurism, and secure your future.
Second, Gallup recommends making a structural change to what you require in a team leader (manager). Require them to actually coach their team members every week and touch base with them regularly. All the articles about the failure of annual reviews and the need for ongoing conversations are right and a good start — very hard to do well — but definitely right. Great team leaders love using the right tools and learning the new practice of management. They will learn things like high development beats high satisfaction. And high purpose beats workplace benefits.
Our third recommendation: Tell your executive committee and board you are transforming your culture from one of command-and-control to one of high development. When board members ask, “Why?” tell them exactly this: “The practice of management has changed. We are moving to a culture that attracts and holds stars. A culture that creates sudden massive innovation and entrepreneurship — so we can win more customers.”