Norton: Top talent talks about the importance of culture |

Norton: Top talent talks about the importance of culture

Here we are wrapping up the series, The 5 C’s of Retaining Top Talent. Now it’s time to link connection, collaboration, change, and consistency to culture. And culture, according to some top performers across several industries, was the difference maker in their decision to stay in their current role, or to leave and explore finding success elsewhere.

Mariann is considered one of the brightest in her organization. She is a thought leader and someone who loves coaching, mentoring, and developing excellence in her team. Every year, she receives a glowing performance evaluation and an increase in her salary. When she emailed me after the first column of this series, she shared that she was regretfully leaving her job and team that she loved. Her reason was that after watching the culture of the organization deteriorate, and with empty promises to change, she ultimately resigned.

Her email was reflective of many I have received over the past few weeks. Organizations who are losing people are losing them largely because of the perceived negative, caustic, toxic and confrontational environment they find themselves now working in.

Dave, a top-performing salesperson, is consistently in the top five among the salespeople in his company. He emailed me to say he was glad that culture was on the list. He reported that he had left a numbers-driven, operations-driven culture that never supported the sales team. As a matter of fact, he called them the “sales prevention department.” He left because he heard about the positive, high-energy, sales culture at his current company. He sought them out, even though they weren’t looking for any new salespeople at the time. “Luckily, and thankfully they saw me as a fit and offered me a job,” he said. “The culture here rocks.”

We are living in very complex times, and it seems that no matter what we do as businessowners or executives leading a company, the diverse makeup of opinions, likes, dislikes, preferences and attitudes of our team members makes it almost impossible to please everyone. Right now, if you happen to be at a place where the culture of the organization is eroding and people are leaving, there is still hope. There is still time to start making changes or leading differently.

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Although we are living and working with complexities, we can take what Albert Einstein said and focus on simplicity: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Sometimes, we tend to complicate the uncomplicated or over-engineer a solution.

When it comes to changing culture or creating and maintaining a positive culture where people want to come to work, we can make huge advancements by focusing on the basics, some of the simplest things that our people expect from leadership, and that can go such a long way to building a thriving culture. We covered some of these over the past four weeks: connection, collaboration, change and consistency.

Employee engagement is a very clear indicator of the health of our business — and a pretty obvious indicator of whether we have a positive and thriving culture. When we look around, are we seeing team members who are simply checking the box, or are they engaged and contributing at their very best? Are we being transparent with what is going on and how the company is performing and taking an active interest in each team member? Are we working under a people-focused culture based on honesty, integrity and opportunity? If not, people will do one of two things: show up and check the box, or they will leave. And with those two options, having them leave is almost always better.

How is your business doing when it comes to culture? Is it so bad that you are in duck and cover mode? Is it so good that you hope to attract more top talent to join you? I would love to hear your story at — and when we create a culture where people want to work and thrive, it really will be a better than good year.

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