How to Build A Culture Primed to Perform by Skip Prichard


The Link Between Culture and Motivation

Explain the link between culture and motivation.

A company’s culture is what motivates—or demotivates—its people, telling them whether to do their work for the love of it or for the fear of punishment (at this point, you can guess which is more effective).

The biggest misconception about culture is that it is a collection of sentiments and perks like “honesty,” “integrity,” and in-house yoga. In fact, culture is the set of systems and processes people have to interact with as they go about their work, including favorites like mission and values, but also job design and compensation. And to inspire the highest levels performance, the entire ecosystem has to be aligned in the right direction.

Total motivation provides a scientific and actionable basis with which to create that alignment—toward the direct motives and away from the indirect ones.

As you studied companies and thousands of workers, what was most surprising?

We were most surprised by how tight the link between motives and performance was. One study of a call center found a $141 difference in revenue per hour between representatives that had positive ToMo and those with negative—that represented a 60% difference. Think about the man-hours and resources companies commit for a fraction of that lift today.

We surveyed people at global banks, 20-person start-ups, even school districts, and what the highest performers and the highest performing organizations had in common was positive total motivation. When we looked at major airlines, Southwest came out on top; retailers, Nordstrom; and among grocers, Trader Joe’s. These companies’ reputations precede them, but never before has a data-driven narrative, agnostic of role, industry or larger-than-life leaders united them all.

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