Last week I wrote a post Don’t Be Clueless about Your Corporate Culture which brought some questions and some good comments. The questions were primarily about how to shape your culture. So let me give you a simple technique that I’ve used in the past that works well.
- Ask the members of your team what words they would use to describe their ideal work culture or environment. As they call out different words write them on a marker board. All words are fair game. Come up with as many as 15 to 20 if you’d like.
- Once everyone has had a chance to share, work together to agree upon the top 4-5 words.
- Next put a letter grade A, B, C, D, F on each of the words grading how you are currently doing with each word. For Example Communication B, High Accountability D, Innovative C+, Fun A -, Relational B –
- Now have the team discuss which one needs to be worked on the most and write out a plan for strengthening that value in your culture.
- Post the words on a wall in your meeting room where you can see them regularly.
- Three months later re-grade each of the words and see if you have made progress in shaping your culture. Put a reminder in your Outlook so you won’t forget.
- Rinse and Repeat
What are some ways you can intentionally shape your corporate culture this week?
Leaders pay attention to your corporate culture because it’s more powerful than you might think. The culture of an organization is easy to ignore because it’s like breathing, it’s there, it’s who we are, it’s what we do. It exists whether we try to produce it or not.
What is corporate culture? At its most basic, it’s the personality of an organization, or simply “how things are done around here.” Every organization has a culture and most employees can pretty accurately describe that culture in 5 words or less. Now the scary part…what 5 words would the people in your organization use to describe your culture? Would they choose positive words? “Our organization is Inspiring, Fun, Energetic, Focused, Results oriented.” Or would their description be more negative? “Our organization is Dull, Stressful, Lacks accountability, Complacent, Critical”.
It’s a strange paradox – the culture of the organization shapes people’s behavior and the behavior of the people shape the culture. This is why it’s essential that the leader not only be in touch with the culture but actively involved in shaping it as well. Leaders who intentionally shape their culture in a positive way are more likely to have satisfied and loyal employees, a reputation as a great place to work, high morale and fewer complaints from those they serve.
You can have a great vision, a nobel mission, a high powered team but unless you’re shaping a positive healthy corporate culture you won’t maximize the potential of your organization. That’s why I say the leaders #1 job is shaping the corporate culture of their organization. It’s way too important to leave to chance.
Today’s Leadership Challenge: Write down 5 words or phrases that describe the culture of your organization. If you’re really feeling brave ask the people in your organization to share their five words. How well does their description match your description? What does that tell you?