How goal-oriented is your organizational culture?


Highlights of history

  • Organizations need goal-driven cultures that deliver on their ESG promises
  • Measurement is the key to creating high performing organizational cultures
  • Determine where you can become more goal-oriented

When your organization is successful, does the world flourish too?

That’s a big question – and your answer will determine the future of your organization.

In the past, an organization could become exceptional through philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. Now, responsible changes and admirable promises are insufficient: people choose to share their resources with organizations that they are sure share their purpose.

Stakeholders want to see and feel that the organizations they buy from and invest in are helping the world thrive through the products and services they provide. In other words, it is not enough to say and do the right things: organizations must to be well, with a business model that makes the world a better place.

This seismic shift in societal expectations demands an equally seismic response from leaders. To win today and exist tomorrow, leaders must rethink why their organization exists and make the goal the heart of their growth strategy.

Managers are increasingly aware of the need to take a “net-positive” approach to business. In a visionary manifesto published by Harvard business review, Paul Polman and Andrew Winston describe a net-positive business as one that “improves the well-being of everyone it impacts and at every scale: every product, every operation, every region and every country, and for every stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, communities, customers, and even future generations and the planet itself. “

Many leaders take responsibility for their goal already captures the hearts of global stakeholders – but Gallup data suggests otherwise:

  • Only 27% of employees strongly agree that their organization always keeps the promises it makes to customers.
  • Less than half of B2B customers (46%) firmly believe that the companies they do business with always deliver on their promises.
  • Only four in 10 employees strongly agree that their organization’s mission or purpose makes them feel their work is important.

And if employees feel the brand’s promises are not being kept, they are likely to stage walkouts and publicly criticize their employers – as Wayfair, Pinterest, Google and others have infamously known it.

It is not enough to say and do the right things: organizations must to be well, with a business model that makes the world a better place.

To remedy this problem, leaders must create a goal-oriented culture where the goal determines “the way we do things here.” Culture matters because perception is reality: you are only as “good” as what stakeholders think you are – as your culture behaves. No matter what you say to the world, your employees’ behavior will speak louder.

To build trust in your organization, you need a goal-oriented culture.

How goal-oriented is your culture? If the following statements describe you, you are on the right track. If not, now is the time to think about what you need to improve.

  • The raison d’être of our company makes each employee feel that their work is important.
  • Our employees believe that leadership is fully aligned with brand and culture priorities.
  • Our customers and employees would use the same words to describe who we are.
  • Our people understand what sets us apart from our competition.
  • Customers know us for what we want to be known for.
  • Our employees are held accountable for living our purpose and values.
  • Our raison d’être and our culture attract the best talent in the industry.
  • Our objective and our values ​​are priority inputs in the decision-making of every leader.
  • Leadership communication is systematically focused on purpose and values.
  • Our managers are the best in the industry.
  • Managers are held accountable for overseeing their team’s performance.
  • Goal, brand and culture metrics are integrated into performance dashboards.

What does a goal-oriented culture look like?

In a goal-oriented culture, employees have a sincere sense of ownership of their goal: the goal energizes teams, informs their decisions and guides their daily behavior. Employees know who they serve, What they serve and How? ‘Or’ What to embody the brand’s promises.

A goal-oriented culture makes money through its objective: the better the organization (ie the greater its market penetration), the better the world.

When a work culture aligns with a common goal, that goal is reflected from the inside out in the experiences of stakeholders. That is, a goal-oriented culture is the rule by proving to customers, employees, suppliers and communities that you are who you say you are. It gains brand credibility and stakeholder loyalty.

How to create a goal-oriented culture

Becoming goal-oriented requires a clear and differentiated goal and a workforce that knows how to live that goal on a daily basis. The journey begins with the CEO, who must understand the value of culture and how to set the tone.

The CEO’s first responsibility is to set an inspiring goal. Next, CEOs need to change their work culture so that every employee believes and practices that goal. Even an exemplary goal is powerless if your culture doesn’t bring it to life – with employees who are passionate about accomplishing their common goal.

Achieving this requires a measured and comprehensive assessment of an organization’s purpose and culture. Analyzes reveal whether your goal is central to “how the work is done” or just a peripheral concept of well-being that does not influence employee actions. The right data informs the best path to culture change.

Metrics also highlight the disconnects in how employees and customers perceive your goal – so leaders can remedy the deadly brand incongruity.

A goal-oriented culture makes money through its goal: the better the organization (i.e. the greater its market penetration), the better the world.

Don’t let culture kill your brand:
Create a CMO and CHRO collaboration

A sure-fire way to nullify a goal is to have a culture that doesn’t live up to the brand’s promises. When culture and brand are misaligned, stakeholders real the experiences will fall short of the purpose you present to the world.

The solution is a goal-driven CMO-CHRO partnership. When CEOs bring the work of CMO and HRD together, it can create congruence between brand and culture, unifying what you promise do with what you Actually do – how your culture behaves.

For example, the CMO and CHRO can help HR functions inspire employees to stand up for their purpose. This may mean altering performance measures to induce employees to adopt goal-oriented behaviors – or providing development for managers so that managers can relate the unique contributions of individuals to the bigger picture. Either way, your culture will have a purpose every moment, gaining credibility with stakeholders and growing your brand.

Here’s another example of the power of CMO-CHRO collaboration: your employee experience. The CMO and HRD can ensure that the day-to-day employee experiences live up to the promises you make to candidates, helping to attract and retain top talent.

When the CMO and the CHRO work together, they can make sense who are you as an organization – the pole star that is evident in everything you say, do and represent.

Hologic, a global leader in medical technology and a member of the World Economic Forum, exemplifies the value of a goal-oriented culture. Hologic pursues its goal and promise – to enable healthier lives and improve women’s health – by producing advanced medical technologies. When Hologic is successful, women’s health necessarily improves everywhere.

Hologic leaders nurture a goal-oriented culture through measurement and accountability. To this end, Hologic’s head of human resources and global marketing has partnered with Gallup to create the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index, the world’s most comprehensive global comparative survey of women’s health.

With this unprecedented index, Hologic enables global leaders and change makers to improve the health of women around the world. And because the index showcases Hologic’s dedication to its goal, it inspires employees to rally behind that goal – creating an unstoppable culture that embodies the brand’s promises every day.

In the future, even the most well-meaning and benevolent companies will lose if they don’t hold themselves accountable for a genuine purpose. Being responsible and investing in good causes is essential, but it is not enough. CEOs need to credibly demonstrate that the world is doing better because their organization is part of it.

It is a high bar to set, but also an incredible opportunity because few organizations will be able to meet this challenge. CEOs who do this – those who build a goal-oriented culture – will create brands that change the world.


Jake Herway is a culture and change expert at Gallup.

Bailey Nelson contributed to this article.


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