In today’s video I talk about the 5 ways to communicate your company culture and keep the conversation alive around your company culture. This video is really for any leader, but particularly CEOs and business owners of small and medium sized businesses.
So, picture this. You’ve designed your aspirational culture and things are in motion. You model the behaviour you want to see in your employees and you’re seeing examples of a high performance culture when you do your walkarounds, in meetings and in casual conversations.
Here’s the hitch and I see this happen so often. The leader comes out with a new initiative: a new strategy, a new plan, a new system they want to implement. Everyone gets onboard, they’re excited, they’re revved up. Things are humming along just great and then….. Life takes over.
Things start to get busy, you encounter some setbacks and slowly the energy and drive that people had for the new initiative starts to fade. People go back to their old habits and behaviours. And then a year later, you’re in the exact same place and nothing has changed.
So, needless to say communication has to be at the top of a leader’s to do list.
I’ve talked about this before on my blog posts and in previous videos, but I’ll say it again: There is no such thing as over communicating. Period.
There’s a popular statistic that it takes 7-21 touch points for someone to “buy” a message. That’s a marketing stat but I think it applies to almost everything. When I coach leaders, this stat comes up a lot. If you have children, then you know EXACTLY what I mean. Actually for teenagers it takes closer to 100 repetitions of the same message haha.
But I get the hesitation. After all, we’re dealing with adults in our workplaces, not children. And some leaders believe that if a message is good, that in and of itself should make it stick. Unfortunately, human behaviour and psychology dictate something different. The other thing I hear from leaders is their hesitancy to say the same thing over and over again, sounding like a broken record.
So, in today’s video, I thought I’d outline some of the ways leaders can communicate their vision for the new culture without it seeming tedious or repetitive.
Demonstrate the behaviours that communicate your company culture
I remember one CEO I was working with abhorred disrespect. If he saw it in meetings, he would call the person out on it. He would tell people that he hated it, that there was no room for disrespect and belittling comments in the workplace.
Yet, in private, he would dress down his people in the most degrading way. He would be sarcastic, dismissive, would interrupt people as they were making a point.
I had gone in for a cultural assessment at this company and several people told me about this behaviour, but I hadn’t seen it myself. Typically in cultural assessments, I meet with the executive team and at least 50% of the organization. And when more than 25% of that population tells me something I listen.
So, I asked to observe an executive team meeting which the CEO led. I was invited to present my preliminary findings of the cultural assessment and I asked if I could stay to learn more about the business. The CEO agreed.
I was observing the CEO, but also the rest of the executive team. And the behaviour was exactly what the employees had told me. Like all of it, people talking over each other, debating in an unhealthy way, dismissing each other’s comments. Two of the executives NEVER spoke up. Not once. And I could understand why not. I wouldn’t speak at such a meeting either.
Of course, I had to go back to the CEO and tell him what I’d observed. Long story short, he attempted to justify it, saying his exec team was a safe place and private. After I told him that a significant amount of employees had felt this too, he sat back.
Leaders, your behaviour matters. You have to walk the talk and you have to demonstrate what good behaviour and good attitudes look like. In this leader’s case, we put an action plan in place to help him stop the damaging behaviour.
Showcase employees’ behaviour that communicate your company culture
This one is an often overlooked method to communicate culture.
When you see or hear of an employee demonstrating the behaviour and attitude you want to see, showcase that. And showcase it publicly.
If your current culture is one of every person for themselves type of culture, and an employee goes out of their way to help another employee, showcase that.
If your current culture is one where leaders hoard credit, and a leader highlights the achievements of one of their employees, then broadcast that leader’s behaviour too. It’s important for people to have real, tangible examples of what your new culture looks like.
Now, sometimes employees don’t like to get called out, so that leads me to the next point.
Reward teams collectively
Showcase how teams work well together and when they embody your new cultural behaviours and attitudes.
If your aspirational culture is to be one of continuous improvement for example, talk about the team that thought about a problem in an innovative way and came up with a cost-saving or time-saving method.
Talk about what you’re doing as an executive team to cut costs, time or unnecessary resources.
Build in the attributes that communicate your company culture into marketing messages
Be mindful of the message you convey in your marketing. Ads should reflect your company culture and that includes the people you have inside your ads.
Get your sales teams onboard
This one is a little controversial, but worth the effort.
Your sales team is the face of your organization. Reflect any culture change or new behaviour expectations right into their compensation plans.
If you want to learn how to define your aspirational culture, check out this video. If you found this helpful, please share with your peers and come back next week for another live discussion on culture, strategy and leadership. In the meantime if you’re ready to embark on this journey, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.