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DOES 2019: Creating a Culture of High Performance by Dr. Andre Martin From Google

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At the DevOps Enterprise Summit (DOES) 2019 in las Vegas, Dr. Andre Martin, VP, people development at Google, presented "The Shift - Creating a Culture of High Performance" and asked the audience: "How can we ensure that our company culture is as strong as our brand?"

According to him, the speed of growth is creating unforeseen duress on companies' culture and requires shifting not only the way we lead employees, but also the way we engage with each other as a community.

Referencing Bain & Company research on organizational health and performance, Dr. Martin shared the following numbers:

  • 68% of leaders believe that their culture is a source of competitive advantage
  • 76% of them believe it can change and 65% believe they need to change theirs
  • 81% believe that an organization without a high-performance culture is doomed
  • Only 10% of businesses succeed at building and / or sustaining a winning culture

According to Dr. Martin, culture and climate are two different things. A well-defined culture is brought to life in the day-to-day work climate created by teams, managers and executives. When everyone's words and actions are aligned with the culture, it results in higher teams' engagement, more discretionary efforts and sharper focus towards customer experience and success.

Leveraging his 20 years of experience working with top brands, and researching what the best workplaces do to create a more compelling employee experience, Dr. Martin shared the most common anti-patterns he observed through the course of his career and that damage employees' creativity and engagement, and offered suggestions that can help leaders curate a winning culture:

  1. Keeping people busy prevents them from being creative
  2. Leaders' inability to prioritize valuable work dilutes people's creative energy in non-value add tasks
  3. Not allowing for failure sustains a risk averse culture and reduces innovation
  4. Creating competition between teams prevents them from developing quality relationships with their leaders
  5. Leaders' resistance to new ideas and invoking what was done in the past annihilates innovation
  6. Leaders' critique over curiosity and openness
  7. Keeping the leadership circle small and exclusive

These, in turn, become the greatest opportunities that can help leaders build a company as powerful as a brand and a culture that boosts innovation and growth. To do this, Dr. Martin invites everyone to take ownership of their culture, wherever they sit in the organization.

First, he invites leaders to observe the climate on the team and to be more mindful of the climate that they create as leaders. It’s important that they create a climate that aligns to the culture that the company defined. Second, he encourages every individual talent to use their voice to tell organizations how they are doing and to provide better and creative solutions to any problem they raise. Lastly, as a community, he encourages everyone to have more conversations about the importance of culture being an integral part of the company's growth and bottom line.

In order to get the kind of innovation companies need to remain competitive, Dr. Martin recommended engaging in these conversations, and giving employees autonomy to refine their workplace and culture. As a community, we need to talk more about the how we work, and balance technical skills development with learning how to work differently.

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