How to Shape Your Organisation’s Culture to Improve Mission Impact by Rae Steinbech

Organisational culture has a clear impact on a business’s ability to meet financial goals and create an impact on their overall market influence. A system of shared values and beliefs will govern how team members behave within your organisation, from how they dress right through to how they perform in their roles.

An effective feedback loop between the top and bottom of your organisation will enable your teams to rally behind a shared cause. They’ll be able to communicate this clearly to those they are working with, as well as those who donate to your charity in support of your mission. Being clear about the why of your team's work and allowing their voices to be heard improves staff happiness, their sense of purpose, and their desire to strive for greater achievement.

Simply focussing on what you do is not enough – a strong sense of culture throughout your institution will allow staff members to become more efficient in their work, dedicated to the ‘why’ of their work, and committed to the task at hand. This, in turn, reduces staff turnover to as little as 13.9% and develops teams into passionate advocates of their work.

Mission Clarity and Supporting Goals

Organisational culture can be a hazy concept, but nailing it down to an easily digestible and clear vision will have impacts far beyond better ways of working. The best way to do this is to ask yourself and your management team a few searching questions about your organisation.

  • What does your organisation stand for?

  • Who are you and what makes you tick?
     

Get multiple leaders in your organisation to answer these questions fully then distil those answers into an easy to understand and relatable 2 – 3 sentences.
 

The next step is to disseminate this mission statement of your organisation’s values throughout your enterprise. Put it up on your office walls, include it in your email footers, and repeat it in internal resources. If it is easy to understand, staff will internalise the vision and be able to unite around your common goals.

Once everyone is working on the same page, it is important to support organisational culture through performance reviews and communication. Clear and transparent goals for each team member throughout the organisation are important, and clear lines of communication should provide further support for staff working towards achieving them.

The American Red Cross implemented a two-way feedback system that supported their charity’s culture and allowed volunteers and staff to have their voices heard. Jono Anzalone, a Division Disaster Executive recognised the need for a better way to communicate with his team. “We were wasting hours a month doing check-in conference calls, and when you’re responding to disasters, you don’t have time to waste.”

The new system encouraged over 116 full-time staff and 5,700 volunteers to provide the feedback needed from their work on the ground, and strengthened communication and culture throughout the 10 regional chapters across 11 Midwestern states.
 

The Benefits of Becoming Mission-Driven

Staff and volunteers who are provided with a vehicle for speaking in a common language throughout their workplace will help create a positive feedback loop within the organisation. This further strengthens culture and the organisational ability to improve upon their mission impact.

Culture, engagement and communication are closely woven together. In Towers Perrin’s Report ‘Understanding What Drives Employee Engagement’, the top motivator was senior management’s interest in their team’s well-being.

The change to communication and support of staff and volunteers made at the American Red Cross set the tone for Anzalone’s teams in a non-threatening and supportive manner. In doing so, it also strengthened culture, team cohesiveness, and transparency between management and front-line response teams.
 

How to Build Culture and Become Mission-Driven

Regular communication allows for teams to review their own performance when providing their feedback. This feedback should flow into performance reviews and highlight development opportunities for each individual. Transparency throughout the communication process from top to bottom and back again will allow for greater openness. It also leads to a better understanding of goals and how to achieve them at all levels of a business.

 

 

The American Red Cross’ Midwestern chapters found exactly this. Their teams loved being given a voice, and the open dialogue exposed areas for improvement at all levels of their work. Asking simple questions such as those below will encourage communication and cultural benefits that ripple to every corner of your NGO:

  • What is preventing you from being successful in your job this week?

  • What can we do this week to help volunteers make a difference?

  • If you were in charge of the organisation, what changes would you make?

  • What moments were you proud of this week and why?

Staff were invited to share what matters to them, and their responses helped managers keep on top of new developments and the nuances of each role. Teams directly impacted how the American Red Cross serve their clients. “Because of suggestions received from our front line teams, we were able to get money into the hands of clients faster in fire disasters, and respond to 70,000 fires a year,” stated Anzalone.

Continued Support of Organisational Culture Through Team Development

Once an organisation has taken the time and invested effort in establishing a culture that supports their vision and mission, it is imperative to carry on supporting it.

Watch the staff members who truly shine, note the attributes which make them stand out, and promote those skillsets through reward and recognition. Each newly hired staff member or volunteer should carry these same qualities to continue building a strong culture that supports the effectiveness of your NGO’s impact.

Providing opportunities for teams to become better qualified will further engage and develop skills that support the organisational culture and mission goals. Conferences, seminars, mentoring opportunities within your charity, and short courses that help skills develop all aid retention rates and boost engagement and role accountability.

According to strategic planning consultant Leigh Branham, SPHR, 88% of employees leave their jobs for reasons other than pay. The third and fourth top reasons for leaving are around coaching, feedback, growth, and advancement opportunities. Clearly, available avenues for development feature highly with staff and volunteers.

Simply focusing on your organisation's mission will blind you to the assets that drive your work forward: your staff members. Listening and engaging with them will help you develop stronger teams that are willing to work harder and more efficiently towards your shared goals. They’ll believe in your mission to such an extent that they become ambassadors for your work. The increased mission impact then becomes a beneficial side effect that will carry on growing as your teams and organisation reach new targets in harmony with each other.

 

This article is brought to you exclusively by The Business Transformation Network.

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Rae Steinbech is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course. 

 

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