Seems like a harsh connotation doesn’t it?

Not some altruistic title to ‘carefully craft your culture’ I know. But sometimes, to get your attention we need to shake things up a bit – no stirring allowed here today! As we seek to build, renovate or rejuvenate a business, a company or an organization one thing is mandatory – to be uncommonly good at what we do, we must first find what’s common among our people.

A common set of beliefs and values, traditions and norms are required to be sure. Heroes and legends, celebrations and stories all help to commnicate the narrative of what’s wrong with our culture, why we must change and how will we go about it without everyone living in fear of ‘what’s next’. Here are 5 quick hits for consideration:

  1. Articulate Your Purpose and Vision. What is your higher purpose, or you exist because (fill in the blank). You must know what you know and admit what you don’t. To build a cohesive group or a community of people who believe what you believe, then you need a common language to communicate to the team. It must be clear, concise and compelling…free of jargon and Weaselspeak. Communicate simply and powerfully.

  2. Hire for fit. It’s said and sometimes preached, hire foryour  culture and train up and around gaps. You don’t need ‘yes’ people and you can’t work with automotons. If they have the emotional and cogent commitment, effort and intent to persevere when times get tough to communicate simply and powerfully, then the technical and practical capabilities and theirpotential will follow.

  3. Set Clear Expectations. Leaders set the bar. Notice I didn’t say, ‘move the bar.’ Set the bar, give them the resources to successfully do the job, monitor progress, give consistent feedback, track results, coach and correct and encourage them. Have conversations – easy ones and difficult ones! New situations will always be evolving; articulating purpose and continuous reinforcement are the principles. Autonomy and accountability are very important preferences to getting it done right the first time!

  4. Continuous Feedback. No shit sandwiches here! Everyone must understand, practice and live by the standards in place and they need to be caught doing it right and be appreciated for that ability.

  5. Lead with Integrity. As THE leader, you have one shot at this every hour of every day. If you don’t take charge of the culture than employees will develop their own and all of its convoluted mess. Pillar #1 of the Elegant Leader. Read more here…

A robust example of a culture that burned itself down and rebuilt from the ashes into what it is today is Chipotle QSR model. While the list is somewhat exhaustive, they look for the following attitudes, behaviors and habits that are modeled of successful employees when hiring talent:

Conscientious, respectful, hospitable, high energy, infectiously enthusiastic, happy, presentable, smart, polite, motivated, ambitious, curious, honest.

Other well designed and built cultures include the NFL Patriots, Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Netflix Patty McCord has served as Netflix Chief Talent Officer since 1998. She built-in expectations of high performance, radical honesty, and the motto ‘we’re not family.’ Maintaining a high performance team is about instilling people with a sense of freedom and responsibility. That comes at a price – you might need to have some tough conversations.

McCord said founders should start by projecting six months into the future. The same holds true for mid-market leaders, global heads and everyone in between. Start here and ask yourself :

What do you want to have happen with your business in six months?

What do you want to be doing in six months that you aren’t doing now?

“When you think about the skills and talents you’ll need to reach these goals, it’s likely “you’ll see the delta,” McCord says. In other words, you’ll see the people who don’t have what it takes to get you to where you want to be and for some of you, where you must go to be successful. Our client list includes BLG Logistics, Inc., Encompass Health, fomerly, HealthSouth, Mitsubishi Motors, NA, Remington Outdoor Company and UAB Hospital.

In sports, it’s easy to see a culture of comeptitiveness. There’s a reason out of 120 college football teams someone has the #1 offense or defense and then there’s #30 and #120. Talent is a given. A proven plan is another. The process in which you develop and coach ‘them up’ to be successful another. And finally execution. So, burning your culture down can be a wise and noble thing if you know where you’re going is likely not where you want to end up.

Measure it, analyze it, change it.

When you honestly consider what matters most with your culture, why considering changing or influencing your current culture is your next best step, how you get from where you are today to where you know you must go takes serious analysis, evaluation of current arguments and critical decision making. Culture Influencing is what we do daily. We hand-select every engagement just as you should hand-select every employee and strategic partner. If having a conversation with a sounding board is all you need or you’re looking for a starting point, then having a conversation is your best next move – no strings attached. Email me or call +1 205-482-2177. If you want to research us further, then consider several other articles of value:

Does Your Company Have the Cultural Capacity for High Performance and Growth?

Culture or Climate: What Do We Impact First?

The 5 Laws of Culture

Where Do We Start?


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