Today, I spoke to Roger Connors, who is the principal and co-founder of Partners In Leadership. His latest book is called Change the Culture, Change the Game, and it is a #1 New York Times bestseller. In this interview, Roger talks about hiring the right people, forming a corporate culture, and the connection between a strong corporate culture and a successful business.

What made you want to write “Change the Culture, Change the Game”?

Change the Culture, Change the Game is totally revised and re-written from our previous bestselling book on culture change, Journey to the Emerald City. Over the last decade, we have learned a great deal about how to speed up the culture change process through integrating the use of the four key culture management tools we teach into the everyday work of people throughout the organization. The methodology we present is simple, straight-forward, practical and it works. Managing organizational culture is a leadership competency every management team must master. To not manage culture is to leave the low-hanging fruit of optimizing organizational performance on the table. We have seen our clients achieve remarkable “wow” kind of results through managing their culture, like a stock price increase from .31/share to $22.35 in just three years.

How do you know if you hired the right people, in the right positions? What if you made a mistake?

There has been a lot of talk about getting the right people on the right seat in the bus. That’s a great goal and one that every organization ought to aspire to. However, in our practical experience working with organizations, we don’t run into many that feel they have accomplished this incredible feat. While culture would be important even if your organization was filled with the most talented of all people doing just the right job, it is even more important when you have people in jobs who are aspiring to become proficient, who are being stretched to employ their talent and who are being asked to do things they have never done before.

That’s real and that’s what is happening in organizations today. Culture sends the signals and cues people need that help them be most effective in their jobs and in their quest to help the organization achieve results. A culture rich in coaching, feedback, accountability, productive dialogue, a focus on results, alignment…I could go on. Creating a culture of employee engagement, involvement and development is what most organizations need in order to help people succeed.

What are some companies that have extraordinary company cultures and why?

Generally speaking, every company that is hitting its numbers and turning in the required results has an effective culture that is working for them. Culture produces results, so the best barometer of an effective culture is the ability to achieve results, particularly as measured over time. However, even the best performing companies have to continue to pay attention to managing their culture. As results become harder to achieve, shifts in the way people think and act become necessary. That’s culture. And if those shifts are not made, then, ultimately, the desired results will not be achieved.

If I gave you a list today of companies that I thought had an effective culture, it is likely that they will fall off that list sometime within the next three years. How many books have been written about the greatest and most excellent companies in the world, only to find that they would no longer be listed a short time after the book had been published. You can’t take culture for granted. It is something you have to continually manage and pay attention to. If you do, then consistent results are achievable over time. We give examples of this in our book.

Does a company culture have to be created before you grow, or does it change with growth?

Every company has a culture that is working full time, never takes a holiday or vacation; never calls in sick. It’s always working, whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not. The question isn’t, do we have a culture? The question is, does our current culture work for us? Is it helping or hindering our ability to achieve results? As I mentioned earlier, culture produces results. You build your culture, the way people need to think and act, around the results you need to achieve. If a key result is growth, then there are certain workplace beliefs you need people to hold about what is important, how to get work done, how to resolve conflicting priorities, etc… Those beliefs are cultural beliefs and should be well defined and fostered. Unfortunately, we often see culture as the last place managers and leaders go to work, usually when everything else is not working. It ought to be the first place we focus.

A recent 50-store pilot of the culture change effort with a large retail client demonstrated an 8-point gain in same-store sales in just 30 days, where 10 other initiatives had failed. Why? You can change the structure of the organization, you can change the processes people use, you can even change the people, but if you don’t change the way they think, then you probably will fall short of the true ownership and individual initiative that is necessary to achieve results.

You’ve been a NY Times bestseller multiple times over. What marketing tactics helped you climb to the top of the lists?

Yes, our just released book, Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results was the No. 1 leadership book last week on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today lists. We have been fortunate in this regard. I think it is the culmination of some really good luck and a lot of hard work. We have a very effective marketing effort that creates exposure to millions of contacts, through both social media as well as other sources. We have complimentary webinars we offer every three weeks that are always “sold out.” And we have an amazing list of loyal clients throughout the world that appreciate our work on workplace accountability. At the end of the day, it’s most important to write a really good book that people enjoy reading, that they learn from and that they feel they can immediately apply. We are told that is how people feel about our books.

Roger Connors
is the principal and co-founder of Partners In Leadership, the premier provider of Accountability Training® Services around the world. He is the author of several leadership and management books listed on numerous bestselling lists, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Publishers Weekly and His company has thousands of clients in more than 50 countries and their books and materials have been translated into 14 languages. He co-authored the classic New York Times bestselling book, The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual And Organizational Accountability, ranked year after year as one of the top five bestselling business books in the leadership and performance categories. Roger is a member of the American Society for Training & Development. His latest book is called Change the Culture, Change the Game.