Culture wields enormous power. It is the deciding factor that not only can create an incredibly dynamic, innovative workplace but also drive extraordinary levels of execution in the marketplace. Culture is the way forward if we are to embrace this expanded set of possibilities and build an outstanding organization that serves a purpose greater than just profit.
In working with some of world’s most successful organizations, here are five steps I’ve found to be the most crucial in building a world-class structure:
Step 1: Define Your Culture
If you ask a group of people who appear to work for the same company while you’re out and about on the street, “What is the culture of your company?” most likely, each respondent will have a different answer. In thriving and world-class enterprises, everyone knows what the culture is, what it stands for, and what’s expected of them within that organization. Further on in this book, we will create a cultural purpose statement in this stage of the process, which is an important first step in defining what your culture stands for. This cultural purpose statement will serve as a foundation for everything else and will aid in organizational alignment.
Step 2: Discovery Through Collaboration & Inspiration
The discovery phase focuses on a collaborative and inspirational approach that engages the entire organization in the culture-building process. Senior leaders will collaborate and partner with all people managers in the organization, soliciting specific feedback along the way to encourage and highlight valuable employee input. Collaboration between the senior leadership team and all people managers is extremely powerful in and of itself, but the impact is greatly increased when the process shifts to a bottom-up approach. As important as senior leaders are when it comes to large-scale change in an organization, this collaborative and inspirational approach is far more effective because it inspires managers and other key stakeholders to become more committed. Unless all leaders and front-line managers, as well as employees, have a strong commitment, the results will be minimal.
Step 3: Launch, Cascade, Embed
It is detrimental to the organization if the culture does not trickle down from the top and permeate all departments. Many leaders and people managers believe that it is enough if a company has strong core values and defines its culture openly. But it isn’t. Leaders must make it a priority to disseminate it across the entire organization. This stage of the process is all about launching and relentlessly implementing it across the rest of the company, as well as embedding it across all functions. In the absence of a strategy for propagating your culture, you run the risk of it remaining isolated and having little impact.
Step 4: Drive Long-Term Impact
It is one thing to create a momentary buzz about your culture, which can have a short-term effect; it is quite another to create a culture that embodies the core DNA of your organization and has a lasting impact. Some businesses may see instant results from a one-time advertising campaign that generates excitement for a short period of time, but the true test is whether those businesses can create a culture of sustainability that produces ongoing innovation and long-term impact. This stage of the process aids in reducing the likelihood that your culture will only have a short- term impact and helps you develop a strategy for creating a sustainable culture that consistently delivers for your organization.
Step 5: Leaders Must Blaze the Trail
This final stage of the process is a deciding factor in whether an organization succeeds or fails in its pursuit of creating a world-class culture. It all comes down to how well an organization’s leaders model the way forward, practice what they preach daily, set clear cultural expectations for everyone to abide by, and blaze the trail forward. What leaders do on a regular basis, and how they behave, send a strong message to the organization. Even when leaders believe others in the company are not watching, employees are acutely aware of what is being communicated. They observe how everything is reflected in their leaders’ daily actions. Communicating a culture change or your desire to build a better one will always fall by the wayside without a strong leadership team leading the way forward and establishing the tone.
Finally, I will say to all of you: Lead! Just lead! You can make the ground beneath your feet rumble with excitement, energy and ongoing incremental progress by blazing the trail forward.
Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from Culture is the Way by Matt Mayberry. Copyright © 2023 by Matt Mayberry. All rights reserved. This book is available wherever books and eBooks are sold.