We often confuse culture with a vision or mission statement. In reality, it is defined by the behaviors we tolerate!
If you talk about trusting employees but allow even 1 leader to intimidate, then that is your company culture. If you talk about enabling team members but let leaders manage through fear, then that is your culture. If you talk about innovation but don’t give your teams the time or tools to innovate, then that is your culture.
Talk is cheap! Action is what defines your culture!!
So how can you ensure you are building a strong culture?
Here are 4 Steps to ensure you are building a strong culture and not just talking about one.
1) Start With Alignment
Ensure your companies' leadership team is aligned with all of the elements that will make up your culture. This will typically start with your CEO and their direct reports.
Why is this alignment so important?
Check out the video below from Patrick Lencioni as he explains the importance of Team #1.
You want people to remember what your culture is? Then create some coat racks!
Imagine you are trying to build a culture where people take risks. You need to inspire them around the idea that it takes hard work, and that you have to be okay with failure. You could send out a communication, or you could put up some poster, or you could talk about it in an all-team meeting, or any of a million other ideas.
OR, you could use stories. The video below is a great example of people telling their stories to hang an idea on. They are sharing stories to drive the concept of never giving up. How much more effective are these stories than an email or a powerpoint?
Challenge yourself to think different about how you share the message!
3) Build Responsibility and Accountability
We have all worked for a company that had a leader who acted completely contradictory to what was espoused as the companies' "Culture". The company may have talked about valuing people, yet there were leaders that openly devalued employees and nothing was done.
This will kill your culture in an instant!
You need a team that is empowered to take on the difficult work of building and maintaining a culture. There are lots of ways to implement these skills, but a great framework I have used for responsibility and accountability was developed by John Izzo. The video below is a great model for developing responsibility and accountability to drive your companies culture.
4) Be an Authentic Example
The power of Live Video is all over the internet. It started with companies like Meerkat, Periscope, Blab and then was quickly adopted by the large players. There has been live video functionality launched at Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, YouTube and others. These services have exploded! The stats below articulate just how impactful it is:
- Average time spent for video on desktop is 34.5 minutes for live streaming versus 2.6 minutes for pre-recorded video.
- Live video is outpacing the growth of other types of online video, with a 113% increase in ad growth yearly.
- Consumers are 8x more likely to make a purchase from Live Video versus pre-recorded video.
Why is live video so impactful? Simple...Authenticity.
It's not scripted, you can't edit out mistakes and as my grandpa used to say, "It is what it is". Authenticity is a new currency. It buys influence and belief.
Find ways to leverage authenticity in your organization to build your culture. You can acknowledge failures, share missed opportunities, articulate ways to get better, use live video and more. This will go a long ways towards building authenticity to drive a strong culture.
It's easy to talk about people that are not living your culture or to complain about a leader acting inappropriately. But I want to challenge you to be the change you wish to see. Read the story about Gandhi below and then ask yourself if you have stopped "eating sugar". Take 1 step in the direction of being the example of culture you want to see in your company and you'll be amazed at the results.