Culture is a top leadership priority for CEOs. According to the Q3 2019 Vistage CEO Confidence Index, which measures the economic optimism of CEOs of small and midsize businesses, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of CEOs say they "strongly agree" that culture is critical to their company's performance and success.
And yet, just 11 percent of CEOs in this same survey say they are satisfied with the strength of their organizational culture.
So, how do you create the culture you want? Contrary to conventional wisdom, you don't need to look to outside experts. The first step is look within.
Here are three questions derived from one of our latest reports that every CEO should ask at the outset of their culture journey.
1. Are we attracting people or driving them away?
A strong culture can be a powerful recruiting magnet. Talented people search for a cultural fit, and they'll pay attention to your company's overall vibe when deciding whether to join your company.
If you have high turnover rates or low retention rates, beware: A cultural problem could be the underlying cause. If you have high employee referral rates, bravo: This usually indicates a positive culture, since happy employees are much more likely to make referrals.
2. Am I leading by example?
Ask yourself if your behavior reinforces your company's mission and vision. If the answer is no, it's time to change course. If you don't truly live your purpose, your employees won't, either.
If the answer is yes, don't stop there. As a leader, you need to continuously communicate the culture you want. Cultures will mutate if not consistently reinforced and articulated throughout the organization.
3. Are employees motivated or just going through the motions?
Culture has a huge effect on employee engagement, which in turn can impact productivity. When people are engaged -- as in, feeling valued and enthusiastic about their workplace culture -- their performance tends to be higher than those who are disengaged.
Conducting engagement studies or pulse surveys can give you a sense of your employees' engagement levels. Looking at metrics like productivity can also help you make the connection between culture and performance.
Be deliberate about your culture. If you are unsure about the direction your organization's culture is taking, start by careful consideration of these three questions. Your responses will provide the grist for the beginning of an executable plan for redefining the culture you want for your business.