“We create our organizational culture by the actions we take; not the other way around.”[i]
Everyone in an organization has an impact on its culture. However, it is the leadership decisions that ultimately drive the culture. “The choices they make cause a ripple effect on employee recruitment, engagement, and performance that powerfully impacts a company’s performance.”[ii] The actions of leadership should demonstrate their values on the culture. If leaders model the behavior they want the company to follow, strong culture begins to form within the organization.
“By setting the mission of an organization and empowering employees to achieve that mission, leadership builds the foundation of company culture — and plays an important role in changing it when it needs to be changed.”[iii] However, in a recent study “58% of managers say they did not receive any management training”[iv] How can an organization benefit from their leadership driving change, if they don’t train them on the culture goals of the organization? Therefore, it’s imperative to hire and train leadership on the foundations of the organization. Here’s an example of how one company put this into action.
TTA recently partnered with Unum Group, a leader in the insurance industry, to develop a leadership development program that led to significant improvements in beneficial culture changes for the company. This Brandon Hall Award-winning program was developed as the organization was embarking on a company-wide culture makeover, due to the multigenerational workforce and the continually changing market conditions.
Their legacy managers program did not support the significant new corporate goals. When employees were promoted to managers, they were highly skilled in the technical aspects of their jobs, but Unum wanted to ensure they had adequate training on leadership skills as well.
Unum partnered with TTA to redesign their leadership training to enable managers to understand and support the new initiatives. Unum desired a more collaborative culture and needed to equip their current and future managers with the skills to lead the organization in that direction. As a result, Unum and TTA established the Leadership Academy. They laid out specific competencies that each leader would need to master. These included: encourage a vision aligning clear goals to corporate strategy, create followership among the marketplace, develop and coach employees to higher performance and customer-centric mindset, lead and support employees through change fostering a growth mindset. These leadership standards were to be followed at all levels. This training program was set to facilitate professional growth and position management staff to drive a culture change.
By embarking in a corporate wide roll out, Unum took the necessary steps to facilitate culture change. By taking the time to develop and train their leaders in the skills necessary to meet their corporate goals, they were able to significantly drive the culture they desired. Their Leadership plays a key role in driving a healthy collaborative culture.
At the end of the pilot, Unum saw a huge transformation in their leadership. Confidence levels rose from 45% to 70%, and team engagement increased noticeably. Departments that beforehand had little interaction, were collaborating on a global level.
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