Is Your Company's Culture Where It Needs to Be?

A 2015 study by the Duke and Columbia Business schools interviewed over 1,400 CEOs and CFOs and revealed, overwhelmingly, that corporate culture is essential for a company to thrive. The study contained the following eye-opening results about the importance of a success focused corporate culture.

  • More than 90% said that culture was important at their firms.
  • 92% said they believed improving their firm’s corporate culture would improve the value of the company.
  • More than 50% said corporate culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value and growth rates.

Yet, the same study also concluded the breathtaking statistic that only 15% of the CEOs and CFOs surveyed felt their corporate culture was where it needed to be.

Conducted by social scientists at Google, Project Aristotle revealed the defining factor in team success - psychological safety. Though it sounds convoluted and intimidating, psychological safety is simple – it is a feeling of workplace impunity, allowing employees to take risks, offer ideas, and ask questions without fear of judgment or reprimand.

Project Aristotle also uncovered many strategies typically used to assemble working teams are ineffective. For example, many group leaders use personal characteristics, such as introversion/extroversion or workstyles, as a primary means to build working groups. However, the study uncovered the cohesion of team members’ personal characteristics had little to do with team success. Surprisingly, Google revealed psychological safety is the primary driver of team success.

The study found two central elements to psychological safety – equity in conversational distribution and high levels of social sensitivity. In other words, when each participant gets equal time in a conversation, it creates a feeling of inclusion and credibility. High social sensitivity demonstrates empathy and compassion for colleagues. Combining the two and emphasizing these values in corporate culture builds inclusivity and trust. Inclusivity and trust are the tenets of a culture of impunity, giving employees permission to be themselves and build meaningful relationships with their cohorts.

According to the Harvard Business Review, collaborative activities in the workplace have grown by over 50% during the past two decades. As collaboration in the workplace becomes increasingly important, so does psychological safety. For team efforts to effectively contribute to the betterment of an organization, members must feel safe to express themselves, give feedback, and take risks. 

Trust and respect are foundational elements of psychological safety – and essential for highly-effective work groups. In developing a culture of impunity, leaders lay the groundwork for innovation and creativity by simultaneously providing employees the freedom to fail and the ability to succeed.

Rather than instituting strict regulations and processes to improve efficiency and productivity, organizations should gear their energy towards developing a culture of impunity. By providing an environment where employees can speak up and take risks without fear of ridicule or reprimand, organizations will realize significant increases in collaboration, creativity, and innovation. These changes will increase employee satisfaction, retention, AND yield higher efficiency and profitability.

Interested in establishing a success focused culture of impunity in your organization? To find out how, contact the Engineering Leadership Institute by CLICKING HERE.