BUZZWORD ALERT!!!! Everyone is talking about the term "culture." I can't open an email, social media or have a conversation with a HR leader without the topic coming up, and I LOVE IT! Leaders are finally recognizing what it means and why it's important.
Organizations are making changes to become more employee- or customer-focused (I prefer the former)...and its not always easy. But first things first:
What is "CULTURE"
Nearly everyone has their own definition of "culture"...so I'll throw mine into the ring as well :).
"Culture" is simply the personality of the organization. The collective sum of all the employees' strengths, weaknesses, experiences, motivations, viewpoints, etc..
Cultures are like people, they grow, evolve & change. Cultures go through a process of maturation over time, with good and not-so-good experiences affecting their overall well-being. Like people, organizations look & act very different as they move through time - you aren't the same person you were in college? high school? are you? Neither is your organization's culture.
"Shifting" vs. "Creating"
So you've decided it's time for a change, GREAT! Let's create a new culture....not so fast.
Unless you just opened shop, you aren't "creating" a culture, you're SHIFTING - ignore what I say on my website :). Simply deciding one day on a management retreat you're going to change the way things have been done for years, and expecting immediate results, just won't work. Cultures take time to develop, and more importantly, time to change. The collective thoughts of the organization, both good and bad, drive the decision making, well-being and engagement of your troops - and those troops have good memories.
Signs Your Culture Needs a SHIFTING
How to SHIFT
GO BIG :)
Just because you're "shifting" doesn't mean you can't introduce the BHAG of all shifts. Often, big, over-the-top ideas for changing a culture are the ones that stick. They excite the team, create a mountaintop that requires the collective energy of everyone on the team, and shows each and every team member that leadership cares enough to change...and change BIG.
Starts @ the top - CEO, Senior Mgmt, so on and so on. Everyone needs to be on board. If they're not, dismiss them. Let me repeat that, "dismiss them!" This is a non-negotiable. Your organization's culture is the lifeblood; it's too important to screw up, and if you're undertaking a shift you need all hands on deck.
Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
I'm still amazed when I hear stories about this in 2015. PLEASE start communicating to your staff! Not in memo form, not in a formalized stand-in-front-of-a-podium and "go through the numbers," but in an honest, open and engaging way. Share with your employees what's to come in the future, inspire your employees with what senior leadership is doing today and tomorrow to make the organization a top place to work and engage the audience to get the feedback you need to move forward.
Actions. They DO speak louder than words.
Just remember, someone is always watching. Someone is always paying attention. As a leader, do you park in the spot closest to the front door? Do you hold the door open that extra 5 seconds for the person 20 ft away? Do you talk over people in meetings? Do you take the time to connect with your team in passing? The farther you go up that org chart, the more eyes that are on you.
@ the end of the day
Remember one thing - your employees can work anywhere they want. They give you the best hours of their day, away from their family, friends, hobbies, etc.. In return we pay them, but more importantly, we should develop a space and culture that excites them. That drives them. That motivates them to excel. A culture that raises them up vs. pushing them down.
"I've been dying to do this book, not because I think I can help everyone who wants to become a millionaire - although I'm pretty sure I can - but because it drives me crazy to know there are still people out there who haven't figured out that they don't have to settle." - Gary Vaynerchuk
Full disclosure: I'm a pretty big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk. I first found him years ago when he did an interview with Success Magazine and was hooked. His energy is contagious and his drive is unmatched. Some don't care for his bravado or delivery, but I think he's being him - and there's no substitute for authenticity. I originally wrote this post years ago when I first read CRUSH IT!, but figured I'd dust it off, update, and share it again. Hope you enjoy and find value!
Gary does a great job of talking about the power behind the internet and social media, the same power that helped him turn his parents $4 million a year liquor business into a $60 million a year operation. He outlines the ease and availability of social media tools (Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc.) but emphasizes the need to "hustle."
Rather than spending hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars on traditional print and media marketing, Gary suggests leveraging the power of social media to build and preserve brand equity. It does take work. Gary shares how after every night of taping an episode of WineLibraryTV, he'd spend the next 8 to 9 hours digging through the blogosphere searching for who was talking wine and WineLibraryTV. He then would reach out and communicate, one by one, with as many people in that community as possible.
This is HUSTLE. Creating great content about your passion and then searching out who is talking about that passion and connecting with them is the name of the game. Unlike the old marketing ways of companies pushing their advertisements through commercials/magazine print, this method of hustle is personal lasting, and offers incredible ROI. The long-term goal is to get sticky and create more opportunities to communicate.
Crush IT! also contains one of the best chapters I've ever read (business book or otherwise), and I mentioned it in my review of The Starbucks Experience.
Chapter 9 - "The Best Marketing Strategy Ever" goes something like this:
One word, "Care." Gary's entire philosophy, and his current business VaynerMedia, appear to be surrounded by this platform - that customers are tired of having content being pushed on them, and human-to-human interaction is here and now. I could not agree more.
If you are in business (of any kind) and you haven't heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, you need to check him out. Get your hands on his books (Crush It!, Thank You Economy & Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook) or check out youtube.com/garyvaynerchuk to see his #askgaryvee show, interviews, keynotes, etc.. Word of caution: this guy has a LOT of energy...so much, that he figured he loses 1-5 to 1-6 of people in the first 15-20 seconds of his old WineLibraryTV videos.
"Theme Thoughts" is a quick look into one of the 34 Gallup StrengthsFinder 2.0 Themes. I'll try and do one of these posts each week, and will share what I've learned from stories and ideas shared by other strengths coaches, as well as my personal thoughts, experiences and applications.
What is 'Futuristic'?
Futuristic - People exceptionally talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They energize others with their visions of the future.
If you're like me and have Futuristic high in your StrengthsFinder profile (mine is #3) you find yourself constantly thinking about the future. You get demotivated by doing things the same way they've always been done, and you have an innate ability to think about how things can/will be in the future. Some may call you a daydreamer, but dream on!
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt
Futuristic @ its BEST
At its best, individuals who exude high levels of the Futuristic theme are visionaries. They're constantly seeing a better future, not tomorrow, next week, or next month, but 5-10 years out. They're inspired by what they envision and inspire others to see their vision for the future and what could be.
Ultimately, the "balcony" of Futuristic for a leader is to not only share their vision for the future, but help their team see, refocus, and strive for new heights.
"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." - Thomas Jefferson
Futuristic @ its WORST
Too much daydreaming. Don't get me wrong, daydreaming is great...but in moderation. When your Futuristic theme is not "dialed in" you'll catch yourself daydreaming @ the most inopportune time or thinking of the future when you need to be completing a time-sensitive task. You may be perceived as simply an "idea person" without any substance or suggestions for pragmatic solutions. Worst of all, you may seem distant or not "in the present."
Like all talents needing to be developed, we must learn how and when to effectively use them in order to make them a highly-productive Strength.
Embrace YOUR Futuristic
Too many of us get caught up in the daily grind. We go from day to day without taking the time to think, to become self aware, and to set a vision for our future. Embrace your Futuristic theme. Feed it by taking time everyday to envision what you and team have in store for the future and then take the steps necessary to make your vision a reality!
“If leaders expect staff to meet and exceed the expectations of their customers, those same leaders must respond to concerns and exceed expectations on behalf of their staff.”
Joseph Michelli dives into the nuts and bolts of Starbucks and the leadership principles that have catapulted the organization to nearly 20,000 locations in 60+ countries. There is so much great information within this book (I can tell by the number of dog-eared pages), but I’ve decided to summarize everything as Mr. Michelli has into just five principles. On a personal note, I have always enjoyed Starbucks, the consistent product, exceptional service, and energizing atmosphere…and now I know none of this is by accident, but rather an ever-evolving design.
Principle 1. Make It Your Own
“What’s the value to customers if a service business offers only bland, sterile service? And why would employees want to participate in such empty exchanges? Ultimately, by connecting on a personal level, both customers and employees find enhanced meaning in ordinary moments.”
How does an organization with 150,000 employees offer consistently exceptional service throughout the world? Freedom to ‘Make it Your Own’ is the answer. Any business, regardless of what service or widget you provide should take this to heart – give your employees the freedom to make customer interactions/exchanges/transactions their own. To often, leadership is concerned with providing a consistent ‘customer service experience’; so much so, the interaction between customer and employee becomes robotic, or empty as the author describes it. Leadership should look to provide employees w/ a framework with which to work, allowing personalization to add value to even the simplest of interactions. Below are the “five ways of being” Starbucks uses to guide partners (employees) through customer interactions.
Principle 2. Everything Matters
This chapter was by far my favorite, yet one statement/quote did not stand out from the rest. Rather, the principle of Everything (everyone) Matters is an overarching philosophy that I think applies across this book, the Starbucks organization, and frankly in every exceptional organization I’ve seen. Organizations that recognize ‘everything matters’, from the pay bean pickers receive to the music playing within stores, ultimately provide a level of service that produces uncanny loyalty from everyone involved. Starbucks doesn’t look to focus solely on the product, customer, employee, environment, partners, etc., but on everything and everyone.
Principle 3. Surprise & Delight
“It’s not the calculated marketing strategy; it’s just the little things people do when they take the time to care.”
Gary Vaynerchuk has a chapter in his book ‘Crush It’ that is only one word, and that lone word is “care.” Too often organizations, particularly large ones, throw money and other resources at campaigns, marketing materials, and incentives attempting to create a great culture. Unfortunately, many fail to realize the simple truth that happy/satisfied employees = happy/satisfied customers and vice versa. Spend resources on personal interaction and education for your employees and never miss a chance to surprise your staff with an act of kindness or a humbling level of servant leadership.
“When leaders care enough to surprise their staff, employee morale soars, and important modeling takes place. Not only do employees engage themselves more passionately in their work, but they also become more energized.”
Principle 4. Embrace Resistance
“It is the rare business leader that knows how to leverage setbacks and losses into future gains.”
Become a Learning Institution.
Every individual and business that has ever achieved any level of success has experienced failure. What separates a good organization from an exceptional one is whether anything was learned in the process.
Principle 5. Leave Your Mark
“…banking on the idea that if you improve the future of those who support you, your future will be secured.”
Socially conscience organizations are becoming increasingly prevalent…if you’re not on this train, you’re eventually going to be left behind. Customers, employees, suppliers, managers and leaders would all rather support an organization that is committed to improving the lives of everyone they touch. Whether it’s supporting local community efforts, or insuring environmentally sustainable business practices, those who care enough to invest the time and resources will be around for a long and prosperous time.
husband + father + pilot + Leadership Coach | Consultant + startup fan + reader of personal #development, company #culture & leadership books