Part 2 of Our 3-Part Series
Breathing Life into Your Organization’s Culture: How to Perform “Cultural CPR”
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the first step, or the “C,” in performing Cultural CPR, creating cultural CONSCIOUSNESS. We defined “cultural consciousness” as a focus on being “awake and aware” of your organizational culture, emphasizing that every member of your team recognizes and acknowledges the defined values that must shape their behaviors and interactions between themselves and others within your organization. To breathe life into your organization’s culture, you have begun working to create awareness and responsiveness to your company culture. Now it’s time for the “P” in CPR. It’s time to PRACTICE! So, let’s jump right in!
Promote Daily PRACTICE: As a leader in your organization, you have a responsibility that you may overlook sometimes. People within your business look to you as an example of how to behave and interact with others. Moreover, as a leader, you and your entire leadership team set the standard for what is considered acceptable behavior. It is that simple. They look at what you do. They listen to what you say. They take all your actions into account and then, consciously, or subconsciously, decide if you have leadership integrity.
Some well-intentioned organizations will go as far as establishing, defining, and even communicating their organizational values, defining how to behave and interact with one another. However, where these organizations have failed is in ‘operationalizing ‘or practicing these values. In other words, how they foster the learning of the core values and behaviors that lead to optimizing business performance by way of better engagement. Practicing company culture requires daily education, observation, and rehearsal to improve how individuals interact with one another when performing throughout the day. It requires discipline and commitment! A simple method for practicing your culture every day is to TEACH, ASSESS, and REPEAT.
STEP 1: TEACH Your Team to Embody Your Culture
Teaching your employees how to behave in alignment with the company’s culture begins by confirming their understanding and recognition of a simple truth. Their interactions with each other are the embodiment of your company’s values and are paramount to improving how they engage with each other and improve performance outcomes for the business. You can achieve this critical learning outcome by providing clear examples of how specific communication approaches are likely to promote and encourage or detract from certain behaviors, thus, positively, or negatively impacting results. For instance, let’s say your organization values commitment. The traits of dedication, resolve, decisiveness, and attentiveness are behaviors that exemplify that value. These examples can guide your team leaders in their daily interactions and teach them how they embody that value. You may provide even simpler examples for reference, such as showing up to a critical meeting on-time and consistently. This example is a straightforward reflection of how a person shows dedication to a deemed essential process. Furthermore, these behaviors reflect a level of attentiveness to the individuals asked to participate in that process.
You can also employ teaching through role-playing interactions between members of the organization. Encourage job shadowing of senior leaders and engage in discussions after each interaction. If employees cannot see current opportunities to live the values in their daily work lives, even the most engaging communication efforts will fall short. In every case, it will be essential to teach through each person’s lenses of thinking and exposure as employees across various levels in an organization may see these opportunities differently. If one of your values is “inclusion,” what this means for a Senior Manager could be quite different from what it means for a Supervisor. Be sure that you articulate the differences for them.
STEP 2: ASSESS Your Team’s Interactions
Assessment of how individuals interact with one another in a manner that aligns with the company values is critical to practicing your company culture. You can use the outcomes of this assessment as the benchmark. It will show that individuals within your organization recognize how their behaviors and interactions successfully align with the culture you are working to foster. For example, you may dedicate one hour each day with a subordinate leader to observe how they engage with their front-line employees in the work environment. During this observation, you will want to evaluate how their actions and decision-making align with and support your company’s value system. During your assessment of how your leaders behave and interact with one another, you will want to answer the following:
Were the interactions between your leaders and employees exemplifying your core company values?
- Was there an apparent awareness of the company value system that informed how individuals interacted with one another?
- Were there direct or indirect references to the company values, beliefs, or associated behaviors during the interactions?
- Did your employees reciprocate or emulate the appropriate practices that are indicative of your company value system?
- When faced with a challenge, did you observe your leader’s application of your company values system as part of their decision-making process?
STEP3: REPEAT, Then, REPEAT it Again!
Findings from your assessment of leadership interactions should provide you with insights on additional developmental opportunities for your team. This step intends that everyone works to realize the company culture that fulfills the organization’s mission, vision, and purpose. You must apply these considerations to the feedback you provide to everyone in your organization. The goal is to discuss areas of opportunity and offering insights, warranting a REPEAT of the process, beginning with STEP 1: TEACH. Practicing your culture is a never-ending process of self-reflection, education, feedback, and application. It is a journey that will significantly improve employee experiences and overall productivity.
Do not forget that practicing company culture requires Cultural Integrity at all levels of the organization. Your credibility when attempting to coach others regarding their alignment to your cultural standards is critical to your success. For example, maybe you have an employee who continuously violates your organizational standards for behaving and interacting with others. However, this person is a top performer; your business ‘relies’ on their contributions to your bottom line.
What is more important to you? Are you willing to compromise on your company culture? The reality is, when your employees observe you modeling the beliefs that shape your company culture and taking the necessary actions to address any act that is contrary to this standard, you put your value system into real and meaningful practice. You become the working model of how to live your organizational values, incorporate them into your daily decisions, and even let them have a positive impact on your personal life.
Now that we’ve discussed how to create cultural CONSCIOUSNESS and how to PRACTICE your culture, it’s time to learn how to measure the RESULTS! Stay tuned for the final installment of this 3-part series, Breathing Life into Your Company Culture: How to Perform “Cultural CPR,” on Friday, August 21st.
At POWERS, we believe that culture drives performance, and we work closely with businesses across all industries to address the above issues and more. If this piece resonated with you, we encourage you to continue the conversation and get in touch by connecting with Dr. Donte Vaughn here or Randall Powers here.