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How to Build Organizational Excellence with Melissa Daimler, CLO, Udemy

Company culture may seem like a buzzword organizations use when recruiting or planning team-building activities and retreats.

But the essence of company culture extends far beyond social gatherings and casual Fridays. It is the invisible thread weaving through every facet of an organization, influencing its identity, decision-making processes, and overall trajectory. 

Defining and understanding company culture is not a mere luxury but an imperative step toward creating a cohesive and purpose-driven workplace. 

Melissa Daimler, Chief Learning Officer, Udemy, joined the LEARN podcast, discussing the importance of defining company culture and using it to define a vision and strategy that promotes skill development, growth, and business success. 

A playbook for HR practitioners

Creating a high-performance culture in the workplace is critical to attracting and retaining talent. Additionally, it is essential for ongoing development, helping employees reach their full potential. 

While many books talk about culture in terms of theories and frameworks, Melissa wanted to create an actionable resource that People leaders could apply to their organizations. This was the catalyst for writing her book, Reculturing: Design Your Company Culture to Connect with Strategy and Purpose for Lasting Success.

“One of the reasons I wrote this book is because I felt it was important to write about culture from a practitioner’s perspective,” she says. “So, from an operating viewpoint, because so many of the other books on culture and everything I read, the research articles and the papers and other books were written by people who frankly had never stepped into an organization.

“So I wanted to write something useful that was essentially a playbook for anybody to take an employee or a leader into their organization and be able to take action on it right away. From a systems perspective, I believe that culture is the how; if you think about your vision or your mission, whatever you want to call it, your charter, or your purpose, that’s your why, that’s your long-term play. It’s why you exist in the world. Why you get up in the morning, why people are doing what they’re doing.”

Read more: Creating a Winning Workplace Culture

Connecting culture to strategy, vision, and execution

Melissa shares how her view of culture defines how work happens and aligns with an organization’s vision, mission, and purpose. 

“Around culture, it is how work happens, how work gets done, and when you can connect all the parts and see the value of culture tied with strategy and purpose, that’s just magic in an organization,” she says. “Within culture, it’s behaviors, processes, and practices. Going beyond values, thinking through, and being explicit about what behaviors you want to show up in your organization that would exemplify your values.”

Building a culture of continuous learning and development and aligning this with business strategies and goals gives companies a North Star to future-proof their workforce, outpace competitors, and maintain operational excellence.

Read more: Align L&D With Business Strategy

Integrating culture with strategy and skills

After defining culture, values, and vision, it’s crucial to understand how to integrate this with strategy and skill development to drive organizational success. 

“I think it’s really important to connect all of those pieces, and so often, I feel like leaders are either focused too much on the strategy, or there are leaders who focus too much on the how,” Melissa says. “A lot of HR leaders do that. They’re not as focused on the results, and that’s not great either. That connection between those parts creates a much stronger opportunity for the company to succeed.”

Understanding the interplay between these elements is crucial for ensuring that the organization’s efforts align with its long-term goals, cultivating a strong and effective workforce.

Read more: The Key Components of a Successful Learning & Development Strategy

Embracing learning opportunities and skill development for career growth 

Fostering a learning culture is essential to promoting professional growth. However, to encourage employee adoption, organizations must connect learning opportunities to individual and organizational growth. Employees are less likely to pursue development opportunities if they can’t see the “why”
or the purpose of these efforts. 

“How do you make sure that employees are super clear about the behaviors and skills that they’re expected to have and do, and then how do we figure out ways if there is a gap to develop those skill sets,” Melissa says. “If you’re bringing up learning opportunities or trainings that are separate from the skills I need to execute in my job today or develop to be promoted, I’m not going to bother. But if you tell me, ‘These skills are really important for your job today. Here’s what I think you’re doing well, and here’s where I think you can develop, and here are some learning opportunities I want you to be a part of that will help you be more successful,’ you bet I’m going to make time for that.” 

By looking at your organization like a system and connecting skills and learning initiatives to tangible benefits and career growth, employees are more motivated to take action and pursue these opportunities.

Read more: 6 Ways to Support Employee Career Growth

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, understanding and implementing the interconnectedness of culture, strategy, and skills is more crucial than ever. By integrating these elements and prioritizing continuous learning and skill development, organizations can position themselves for sustained success in the present and the future.

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Melissa. Subscribe to the LEARN podcast on Apple, Spotify, and YouTube for expert insights and advice from top leaders in tech.  


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