A culture is just a network of conversations!
A High-Performance Culture is a network of “Intentional conversations” that are designed from the company’s core values and mission statement.
To deepen the company culture throughout the whole organization we need to be designing intentional conversations in the following scenarios and then hold each other accountable to living it.
Remember a True Professional is someone who is the “Master of the Details” in 4 key areas:
Below are a set of practices that our clients are living every day to enroll their colleagues into Living Their Culture in intentional ways:
- Hiring Process
How is your hiring process designed? Including questions that support vision, mission and core values helps to ensure the organization attracts the right type of people who will move the organization forward and will fit into the culture.
- One-on-One Coaching Conversations
It is important to create space for individual conversations where people can feel free to speak their minds and bring up any concerns. Doing this shows an organizational culture of communication where even the most introverted people have the opportunity to be heard.
Every organization manages the communication of feedback differently. For example, it may be done at annual performance reviews, monthly or weekly meetings, or daily in the moment.
The frequency and the structure of how feedback is provided speaks to a culture. Daily feedback and open forums speaks to a more agile, open and responsive culture versus annual speaks to a more structured and reactive culture.
- Organizational Conversations
Culture is a network of conversations and language that lives within the organization.
For example, at Starbucks every staff member is a “Partner”, at Disney all the design staff are called “Imagineers”, at STEP Energy Services all the staff in the field are called “Field Professionals”, and at Awesome Journey when challenges or setbacks occur we don’t ask, “What went wrong and who’s fault is it,” we ask, “What can we see was missing and who do we need to support and how can we best support them?”
- Senior Management as Brand Ambassadors
Senior Management who live, breath and talk the Vision, Mission, and Core Values are the best catalyst for building and maintaining a culture. Leadership breeds more brand ambassadors.
- Reflections and Celebrations
Does the organization take the time to step back and look at accomplishments, contributions, appreciation, and wins (big and small), and celebrate in some way? Acknowledgments provide a space for the team to see what they have done and understand how it has benefited the organization.
- Communication Structure and Transparency
What structures are in place for communication? Email, phone, in person, online forums. How is communication performed throughout the organization and what is the expectation of what becomes of the communications – how are people accountable. What is the level of transparency for communication?
At Bridgewater, one of the world’s largest investment firms, they practice “radical transparency”. When you enter the company, you understand that they are radically transparent and your opinions and thoughts are required regardless of if they are positive or negative. You understand that you will not be reprimanded or face negative consequences for simply speaking your mind.
TedTalk Video that speaks to Radical Transparency | How to build a company where the best ideas win
If a company does not have this particular culture, there may be other methods of communicating your thoughts that work better for that culture.
- Personnel Management
When a person is hired, promoted or terminated, how is it communicated to the organization? This indicates what behaviors are rewarded, or not acceptable. It also speaks to the level of openness and transparency within the culture.
If people are hired, promotes or terminated with no communication, the culture becomes “things just happen around, no one tells us anything or cares how it affects us”.
On the flip side, if there is solid communication and space for any questions, the culture becomes “there has been a change, we’re in the loop, and I have a place to speak to my concerns. Management cares about us”.
The way decisions are made and how they are communicated shows a lot about an organization’s culture. What behavior creates a promotion, termination, corrective action or congratulatory situation?
- Team Meeting Rhythms
How often does the team meet as a group, are their smaller groups or committees to manage projects? What is the structure of the team meetings?
At Awesome Journey, we begin each meeting with meditation and then discuss our experiences with one of our core values. This happens at every team meeting and is built into the culture.
- Social Team Time
All work and no play can lead to a sense of a “no fun” culture. Creating the opportunities for the team to meet socially defines the “fun” factor. Consider Friday pizza lunches, coffee dates, group dinners, or anything else where the team can gel in an informal setting and get to know each other.
- Charitable/Service Projects
Charitable service can be done internally (helping someone move, attending a special event, etc.) and external (organization is committed to a specific charity).
Is the organization involved in any charitable organizations where they do an annual or monthly service? Is it a regular thing for team members to provide support to each other beyond just work? Charitable involvement shows people what the organization cares about within the broader community.
Reflect on what your organizational culture currently is and what you would like it to be.