STOP WITH THE HAWAIIAN SHIRT DAYS!!! - or at least make sure it isn't the only shining example of "how great" your company culture is. True story: a few years back I went to a friend’s company xmas party where everyone was encouraged to wear ugly sweaters. The CEO took the mic to kick off the evening, thanked everyone for coming and for a successful year and then said, “and it’s amazing to look out and see all of you wearing those sweaters; really shows what our culture is all about.”
Can every employee define your culture in ONE SENTENCE?
Management loves, LOVES to throw around the term "culture." It has to be the most popular buzzword for HR & C-Suite execs. Unfortunately, if you asked them what their company culture is, you'd probably get a 5-minute monologue about caring for the employees, serving the customers, giving back to the communities, etc. (don't get me wrong, these are all great things, but that's not your culture...that's what every company that expects to stay in biz in 2015 says).
Use an outsider perspective for clarity
An outsider (new employee, customer or member of the community) should be able to look through your employee handbook, intranet site or marketing materials and have a pretty good idea about what your culture is. If not, your culture either sucks or you have a marketing strategy that is not emotionally linking to people #FAIL. Or, your marketing department doesn't know what your culture is #EPICFAIL.
How to get your culture back on track
1.) Define your “why” (thanks Simon Sinek) and then "shout it from a mountaintop" (thanks Ron Burgandy)
In the year 2015, your reason for being in business better be more than to increase shareholder value or the generic, too-often-heard, “to serve our customers and communities” or “to exceed customer expectations.” The world has gotten a lot smaller over the last decade and employees and customers want more. They want to work for/buy from an organization that does more, and is more.
"You have to be a place that’s more than a paycheck for people." -Rick Fererico, P.F. Chang’s
2.) Start with individuals
Cultures are not driven, managed, or created in the C-Suite, by a fancy heartfelt marketing campaign, or by a “steering committee” - yes, the quotes are meant to be sarcastic :). Cultures start with individuals, individuals who each have a set of unique strengths, and if given the opportunity to act in those strengths will produce exceptionally high quality work, be incredibly engaged and motivated, shy away from looking for greener pastures (i.e. quitting), work better as a team and ultimately provide the best customer-experience in your industry.
Guess what?!? – this is the definition of a strengths-based culture, where employees are coached, encouraged and appreciated for working in their strengths and not resigned to “the job you were hired for.” Every leader will tell you their most important asset is their people, yet too often, the fulfillment, happiness and dreams of their employees are overlooked or ignored.
3.) Let’s get emotional (emotional branding)
To help get the culture bus moving, and more importantly, keep it moving, organizations must continue to communicate on an emotional level with both their customers and employees. Continuously communicate the “why” and the accomplishments of your individuals and the good you are doing in the communities. Emotional branding is more than saying we’re “family-owned” or pointing to the “Charitable Giving” line item on the income statement during the annual meeting. *Think of how powerful that same communication would be if you showed pictures or a video of you and your employees donating their time and energy to a cause, or highlighting an incredibly selfless employee in the monthly newsletter/annual report, or even better yet in a youtube video.
"If you are lucky enough to be someone’s employer, then you have a moral obligation to make sure people do look forward to coming to work in the morning." -John Mackey, Whole Foods Market
Cultures are individuals, individuals need individualized coaching and recognition, and ALL individuals have strengths!
FOCUS ON STRENGTHS! FOCUS ON THE INDIVIDUAL!
husband + father + pilot + Leadership Coach | Consultant + startup fan + reader of personal #development, company #culture & leadership books