Customer reps at one home security company had always been proud of the quality of their customer interactions. After a recent acquisition, the merged organization started to focus on costs, and the reps felt pressured to spend less time with customers. What should be their priority?
This type of confusion is common during any type of transformation if the organization fails to properly articulate strategic choices and inform employees how to make trade-offs, especially when they are conflicted between two good things (e.g., being cost-focused or customer-centric).
An employee’s ability to navigate and make trade-offs between cultural norms is the biggest driver of transformation-aligned performance
“Over 80% of employees going through a transformation experience cultural tensions or competing priorities they don’t know how to balance,” says Elizabeth Barrett, Vice President, Team Manager at Gartner. “Both create stress and worsen performance.”
To enable an organizational culture that drives employee performance and delivers results, senior leaders must reflect the desired culture in organizational systems, processes and strategies. Communications leaders have a critical role to play in making it clear to employees how to navigate and resolve cultural tensions and accelerate the development of culture-informed judgment.
Biggest driver of performance
Gartner identified five factors that drive transformation-aligned performance — the extent to which employees are effective in their jobs and the degree to which they actively align their efforts to changing company priorities.
Culture-informed judgment — an employee’s ability to navigate and make trade-offs between cultural norms — is the biggest driver of transformation-aligned performance. It helps employees deal with difficult decision making and minimizes second guessing during a time of transformation. Lifting the burden of conscious decision making enables employees to create mental shortcuts and make correct choices based on habit.
“Of the five factors, culture-informed judgment had almost twice as much impact on transformation-aligned performance compared to the next most powerful driver, capability,” says Barrett.