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Does Improving Engagement Start With Corporate Culture Change?

By Eagle's Flight on March 19, 2013

improving corporate engagementThe first step to elevating engagement is being aware of the mindset of your team. If that mindset isn’t flexible, collaborative and accountable, the company may require drastic corporate culture change.

That’s according to Michael Y. Brenner, co-founder and president of Culturology, a consulting firm specializing in workforce engagement. Brenner says that culture and engagement are related because a healthy culture will increase engagement while a toxic culture will decrease it.

Brenner’s thoughts were highlighted recently in a blog post on the website of the American Society for Training and Development, the world's largest professional association dedicated to the training and development field.

“Although the organizational environment certainly influences engagement, the way a person perceives his/her everyday work, team and team leader has an even greater impact,” Brenner says.

Using a gear metaphor, Brenner identifies characteristics of five different kinds of corporate cultures.

  1. First gear: The team is slowed by bureaucracy, approvals, politics and a silo mentality.
  2. Neutral: The team is stagnant thanks to a proliferation of the “not my job” syndrome.
  3. Reverse: The team is going backward because of conflict, hostility and resentment.
  4. Grinding gears: The team is dealing with relentless change, stress, work overload, shifting priorities and constant firefighting.
  5. Fifth gear: The team is flexible, adaptable, creative, collaborative and accountable.

Like everything, workplace engagement varies, Brenner explains. Some people try just hard enough at their job to avoid being fired, while others choose to put forth maximum effort.

This is why even at the best companies, not every day can be a “fifth gear day.” But if constant stress or super slow approvals are keeping teams from reaching optimum performance, corporate culture change is necessary, he says. 

In summary, companies are losing time, momentum, money and resources if their corporate culture doesn’t promote flexible, creative, accountable and collaborative attributes.

Here’s the good news: Team leaders have more control over the engagement and performance of their team than even senior executives. The key is taking action to improve. 

What gear are you in? Is your team stuck in first gear or reverse? How have you helped improve the culture at your office? 

Source: American Society for Training and Development, February 2013

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