Do You Need A Culture Reset?
In the midst of, and as you emerge from, a major crisis, there is an opportunity to rewrite and refine your company culture.
Culture evolves. At different stages of the business, as you hire more people, as you integrate technologies, etc.
Maybe you have seen the very best of your culture rise to the challenges of today or maybe you have identified areas for improvement.
Take this opportunity to be intentional about creating a culture that fuels growth and supports the well-being of your team.
And please, please stay out of a place of fear. Fear leads to self-doubt which can come out as frustration or intimidation or a host of other not so pretty traits that equal a toxic culture.
What Do We Mean by Company Culture?
Let’s start with what we actually mean by “culture”. If you ask 25 CEOs you will get 25 different answers, though there is some consensus around the general concept.
One short answer: it’s the composite of employees, interactions and environment.
Or, a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices (or ways of interacting).
A long answer: the shared beliefs and values established by leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding.
How Do You Want to Define it?
What kind of culture do you want to have? What are the company’s values and beliefs? Are you living them in your words and your actions? Do they need a rewrite?
Here are few values that I believe many will agree create a strong, vibrant culture: innovation, nimble or agility, people-centricity, accountability, resilience, integrity, transparency, autonomy, inclusive, …. Others?
I want to pick my favorite for creating thriving businesses post-COVID but they are all valuable and have harmonious effects. Pick 5. Now what does each one look like in practice?
Let’s take innovation.
I was reading an article in Fast Company the other night, it was a conversation with Elie Seidman, CEO of Tinder, about culture and innovation. The article summarized,“[t]o foster innovation that drives the company’s success, the company’s culture focuses on what employees need to grow, learn and develop.” Seidman said “We’re going to help you believe in yourself. We’re going to provide you with the environment and the team where you are both challenged and feel safe to do so.”
Why Does It Matter to Your Success?
As Peter Drucker, a management guru, once said (and my website quotes) “Culture ate strategy for breakfast”.
There are plenty of stats and studies on the direct and positive impact culture has on revenue growth, profitability, market share, productivity, employee retention etc. Basically, performance = your culture.
Your culture is also your brand. Your HR brand — how your employees feel about working there (what are they saying to people outside the company or posting on social media?) which, in turn, impacts how well you are able to attract and retain talent. What words do you want them to use to describe working at your company?
It’s also your reputation and external brand. During this crisis, did you take actions that reflect your core values? Did you stand by a commitment to be transparent? Is one of your values empathy? Well, then was your communication on the level of Brian Chesky’s to his employees?
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 90% of people say they want brands to do everything they can to protect the well-being and financial security of their employees and suppliers.
Your culture determines how you respond in a crisis and your customers are watching.
One Thing You Can Do Now
Recognize employee’s positive contributions. It could be for their skills and expertise, or taking initiative, or high-quality ideas, thinking outside the box. For living out your company values. Or, maybe it’s for helping out a team member. Or, starting a new running routine or meditation practice, exploring a creative outlet.
There are many books and teachings about the power of gratitude in our own lives, there is also power in showing gratitude. How about a slack channel where team members can send out love and high fives? Your very own company gratitude journal (maybe a good thing to review when thinking about new ways to incentivize and reward employees).
Public recognition is also very powerful, or a hand-written note may feel personal. Just talk about it, write about it, send memes around. You chose.
And don’t forget to celebrate the little wins (not to mention birthdays — COVID birthdays are no fun trust me!).