“Begin your culture with the mindset that you cannot force a culture into existence. Think of culture as needing a set of boundaries, but allow the culture to build itself using those brains that you have brought into the company to share and mold it into something that is a living breathing thing. If you expect to build a culture of a PowerPoint presentation – you will be sorely mistaken that anyone will take you seriously.”
– Chris Hatley, Produt Manager for AT&T at Austin CSI.
I talk a lot about the importance of culture. More importantly about how leaders influence culture. But, never enough time talking about how to put the desired culture in place. It’s not easy. Arm chair quarterbacking culture produces a lot of hot air…
Here is my top 5 observations on planting effective culture roots:
5. Vision, Mission, and Values.
It all starts here. What is the vision and mission of the organization? Department? What are the organizations’ values that drive our actions? Where is it in writing? Ink signatures for acceptance. The absence of articulation and promise leads to gray areas.
4. Hire Leaders Who Are All In.
Leadership needs to not just talk the talk, but are all in on vision, mission, and values. Do you have their commitment? Are they driving not just results, but growing their people? Are you watching your leaders? Are they effective?
3. Eliminate “Toxic” and “Donkeys”.
Somehow, they seep in. Whether by best intentions, accidents, or inheritance, culture is most deeply affected by toxicity and donkeys. Kill toxicity where it grows, quickly. Let go the donkeys. Replace with thoroughbreds who can connect to vision, mission, and values.
2. Live and be Accountable to the Values.
People watch their leaders carefully. The best leaders attract disciples and model the desired behavior. The worst, drive people away. How do you model the culture? Are you accountable to yourself? To your team? Time to be real about culture: Are you a part of the problem? Fix it.
1. Reinforce Culture At Every Turn. Teach, Rinse, Repeat.
We joke on my current team about talking/forgetting about things said and “must say it ten times” for it to sink in. There is truth to this. To make change, you must drive it, and drive it, and drive it. Monthly, quarterly, annually. If culture is truly important to you, then make it a priority to teach it, display it, reinforce it, and award it.