In a recent interview with Jim Harter PhD., Chief Scientist, Workplace for Gallup and co-author of It’s the Manager with Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, we discussed how critical the executive team is, in terms of creating an organizational culture.

It starts with the company’s goals and becomes a process of determining what you’re aiming for, and how that compares to what you’re doing. It’s what creates a reputation over time.

Unfortunately, Gallup analytics reveals that less than half of U.S. employees (41%) strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from its competitors.

This stat should not be neglected. An organization’s performance improves when its employees understand what differentiates its brand.

Additionally, Gallup found that 71% of millennials who strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from its competitors say they plan to stay with their company for at least one year. That number falls to 30% for millennials who strongly disagree.

Should I stay or should I go now…

In short, if your best employees don’t know your organization’s purpose, chances are they are not staying. Here’s the culture check you can make to ensure they stay–ask yourself three questions:

  • How well do your purpose, brand, and culture align?
  • How clear is your purpose to employees and customers?
  • Are your employees committed to your culture?

The best applicants join an organization because of its reputation. And social media greatly heightens awareness of a company’s culture — good or bad.

Gallup analytics finds that employees and teams who align with their organization’s culture consistently perform better on internal key performance metrics than those who do not.

5 symptoms of a broken culture

Sometimes organizations don’t initially see problems with their culture as “culture problems” at all. Here are some warning signs that your culture might be broken:

  • the inability to attract world-class talent
  • difficulty maximizing organic growth based on customer-employee interactions
  • leadership initiatives that don’t go anywhere
  • lack of agility in responding to customer needs
  • loss of best performers to top brands

How to fix your culture

Most CEOs and CHROs list “culture” as a top priority. They know they need to change.

They want a culture that is agile and adaptable to changes happening around the world. They especially want a culture with high collaboration where they can make good decisions and execute them quickly. They want a culture that attracts and retains the biggest stars.

Following record levels of mergers and acquisitions, many organizations around the world are trying to blend cultures and brands. Merging cultures rarely works because tribes, by nature, want to maintain their identities.

What has to happen to change a culture? Jim Harter offers some solutions in It’s the Manager:

1. Identify your purpose and brand.

Purpose and brand set the stage for everything else. The employee experience starts with applicants’ first impression of your organization and then how their employee journey, from onboarding to development and eventual departure, validates those impressions. Top executives need to be aligned, consistent and committed to the purpose and brand. That is the starting point for bringing teams together and effective decision-making.

2. Audit all programs and communications.

Including human capital practices, performance management, values and rituals, and team structures — for alignment and consistency with your organization’s purpose and brand. Gallup has found that this can be a quick process and recommends performing this audit annually.

3. Reposition your managers as coaches.

Only your best managers can implement the culture you want. A great culture is one of the few things an organization can’t buy. Managers at all levels make or break your culture change. And traditional performance management systems have struggled to inspire and develop employees, which can result in billions of dollars in lost productivity. Today’s employees want a coach, not a boss. Moving your managers from boss to coach not only increases employee engagement and improves performance, but it’s also essential to changing your culture.

Originally published on Inc.

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