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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Building Positive Culture

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a few mistakes I’ve seen when companies are attempting to build culture.  Now here are a few tips.

Senior Leadership must be aligned with the culture you’re building. A culture statement, launch, or communication shouldn’t be an HR project.  While HR plays a key role in asking the right questions and encouraging leadership to focus on building culture, the principles of culture you are building must come from the key leaders from all parts of the organization.  Involve senior leaders in developing your culture statements and strategy – if they are not aligned from the outset, chances are your culture will be similar to teflon and won’t stick.  All leaders need to fully understand and keep culture in mind as they make strategic decisions and vice versa.

Culture should be a filter for all decisions. Whether you are deciding on an incentive program for employees, a disciplinary action, or a marketing promotion, if it doesn’t fit the culture you are trying to build, change it before your roll it out.  Decisions that are contradictory to your culture will undermine it and force employees to question its integrity.

Consider your audience when communicating. With this type of communication as with any other, consider the type of Associates that you have and the way you want them to think of the organization.  Do corporate “buzzwords” work with your employees?  What kind of vocabulary makes sense for them?  My general advice is to use fewer and simpler words when they will do.  Is your culture meant to be fun?  If so, use fun language when you communicate the principles of your culture.

Culture needs to be entrenched in all areas of people management. From recruiting and employer branding to orientation and training to rewards and succession planning to disciplinary situations and termination, you need guidelines that are aligned with your culture.  Imagine a company with a culture statement that includes a focus on customer service that rewards or promotes individuals with a reputation for poor customer service.  Not only will that person not “live” your culture, but others will also see that people are rewarded for behaviours that are counter to the culture.  What you reinforce, will be repeated.

Hold people accountable for culture. Just like with other metrics, measure your culture and hold Managers accountable for working to improve it.  One example is to use engagement surveys to measure how culture is being entrenched within all departments or locations.  Have the areas who are rated in the bottom 10% participate in an improvement group in which they are responsible for action planning, communicating their action plans, and executing.  Measure their progress regularly and implement consequences for not executing their action plan.

If you implement these strategies for building culture, you will have a good start on entrenching the kind of cultural behaviours you are hoping to.

 

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