We work with our clients closely to help them align their teams to create a more productive, rewarding, and successful company culture. For nearly 3 decades, we’ve worked with hundreds of businesses across a diverse range of industries to help them create better organizational environments.
We understand and have seen firsthand the challenges, pitfalls, and potentially devastating impacts of what an unintentional culture can mean for a company. As well, we have seen the many benefits of what a great work environment provides. We have developed a defined and proven system to help organizations align their teams behind a shared, well-defined, and highly inspirational vision to create a great culture.
In this article, we will share some of the fundamental building blocks you need to align your team, create a world-class culture, and position yourself for greater success.
In our work with hundreds of businesses, we can quickly spot the companies and leaders who are able to create a great culture and the companies and leaders who struggle. Below we have outlined some common misconceptions related to cultural challenges.
Telling People What to Do Should Be Enough
Unfortunately, this is still the philosophy of many leaders, and it may not even be all their fault. After all, this is how the workplace worked for many decades. It used to be that people were happy and grateful to just have a job.
However, times have changed. Today, the great people that you want to work for you want a lot more from their careers:
- They want a deeper sense of purpose and meaning from their work.
- They want to be a part of something special and personally rewarding.
- They want to understand how the work that they do connects to the overall success of the organization.
- They want what they do to be important.
- They want their work to have impact and meaning.
People Should Want the Organization to Succeed
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone you hired shared your motivation for the organization to succeed? The fact of the matter is that most people simply are not wired that way. They have lives outside of work. They have challenges, and they have a vision for what they want for themselves in life. To believe that everyone you hire should simply want to organization to succeed without any personal interest in what this means for them is simply not realistic.
We Do Not Need to Spend Too Much Time on This
Many leaders believe that a great culture should just happen. If you hire great people, then the culture of the company should just be great. Wrong! Creating a great company culture takes intention, engagement, systems and a lot of work.
Start With a Clear Vision
If you expect people commit, have a connection to something, and be an invested part of it, the first step is to clearly define what this is. This intention, dedication and clarity is something that many companies fail to establish. If the company doesn’t believe that defining a clear vision for the organization is worth their time, what sort of culture can they possibly hope to create for their teams?
Jim Collins, author of Good To Great, Built to Last, Great By Choice and many other leading books on the subject of organizational development, defines the 3 critical elements of an effective organizational vision as:
- Core Values
Over the years, we have seen these simple concepts misconstrued and implemented poorly by companies. They will say, “Oh yes, we have all of that nailed down.” But they have not done this correctly. This is why we feel it is critical to define each of these important elements. Afterall, if you start with a bad roadmap, you cannot possibly arrive at your destination.
These are a set of guiding principles and tenets; your philosophy of business and life that define who you are and how you behave in all circumstances. Some examples of person’s core values might include:
We often work with companies who have developed their core values based on how they want to market their products or services. So sometimes we will see a core value of a company that is “Customer Service” or “Safety”. Core values developed like this do not carry any personal connection. Do you know anyone who would say that either of these core values sound like who they are? A core value should be something that a person or individual might say describes the principles they follow in their life.
A purpose is a simple statement that grows out of your core values. It is the foundational reason for the organization’s existence. This purpose often reflects greatly on the company founder or leader and the joy they got from starting the business. It is what drove them. Some sample purpose statements are:
- To give unlimited opportunity to women – Mary Kay
- To be a role model and tool for social change – Patagonia
- To make people happy – Disney
Here again, we often see companies getting this wrong. When you read any of the purpose statements above, you will notice that none of them have anything to do with the product or service provided by these companies. When we begin working with some clients, they may tell us that their purpose statement is something like, “to be the best law firm in the Rocky Mountain Region”. We’ve found time and again that when a company’s purpose is structured to sell their product or service, the vision will not connect with people.
We often work with companies who say that they have a mission statement. Often, we find these statements are missing the mark. A successful mission , something that is part of a successful vision for an organization, is not a statement. A mission is the specific mountain that the organization is going to climb. It is meant to stimulate change and progress by people making a resolute commitment to it. You must be able to define specific measures of success. It must have a clear finish line and a specific timeframe.
An example of a well-crafted mission is:
- By the year 2028, we will reach over 1 million people with our message. We will generate revenues of over $50 million dollars and we will have created positive impact in the lives of more than 15 million people worldwide.
- Another great example of a compelling and motivating mission is JFK’s Speech “Why go to the moon?”. Listen for the key elements we’ve outlined. Think about how you feel as you listen to this.
Make Your Vision Personal
Once you have created a clear, compelling, and inspiring vision for your organization, the next step is to communicate this and make it personal for every member of your team. After watching the JFK speech, you can see how he was making the space race personal for everyone in America. He shared why this was so important, he included everyone, he talked about the benefits for everyone, he set a deadline, and he made it about the success of our country together.
The rollout of your company vision must achieve this, but for your organization. You must include everyone, and they must feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Then, this vision must be ever present, reinforced, and part of all that the organization does from that point forward. Afterall, this represents why the organization exists and the meaning to which you want everyone to connect in order to create a great culture.
Coaching, Leadership and Management
As you bring this compelling and uniting vision to life within your organization, it is critical that your top executives and mangers reinforce your vision throughout all interactions. Your core values and purpose should be an integral part of your:
- Hiring Process
- Role Requirements
- Recruiting Ads
- Offer Letter
- Management Process
- New Team Member Onboarding
- Reviews / Promotions
- Firing Process
- Performance Evaluations
Your executives should implement team engagement strategies beyond simple performance measurement. They should actively engage in:
- Understanding each team member’s personal goals, what they value and how you can help them be more successful and fulfilled
- Exemplifying your core values in all that they do. Reinforcing the core values and the associated behaviors any time there is a meeting of 3 or more people.
- Setting clear expectations for personal team member success. Holding people accountable. Providing the resources needed for success and celebrating achievements.
Your organization should have a values-based recognition system. This could be as simple as a box with paper slips for team members to shout each other out for going above and beyond in ways that are related to exemplifying your defined organizational core values. This simple action alone will help everyone within your organization to recognize and become familiar with your organization’s core values.
These recognitions should be celebrated publicly. This will socialize these behaviors with positive reinforcement and you will begin seeing these behaviors happening more and more often, until no one within your organization will be comfortable outside of your established core values. It is truly an amazing thing to watch happen.
Creating a Rhythm of Success
To create a great organizational culture, you need to develop an intentional rhythm of reinforcement and engagement with your team. This rhythm provides a space to pull everyone out of their day-to-day work for a while to focus on the vision. It should create opportunities for questions, feedback and fresh insights. It should make everyone feel included in the process and the success of the organization. It is time that that is just as important as hitting a client deadline or making that next big sale.
A good company reinforcement rhythm might include:
- A weekly one-on-one with each team member for 30 minutes
- A monthly relationship meeting with each team member to review their progress and performance
- A quarterly all team convergence to review overall company progress, initiatives and the next quarter planning
- An annual all team planning 2-day planning session to prepare for success in the coming year
You can also create your own rhythm. The key is to have these connection points frequently enough to maintain everyone’s engagement. Be sure to set these up at the beginning of the year to ensure that they do not get pushed aside as you get busy.
FAQs – Team & Cultural Alignment
How Long Does This Process Take to See Results?
If done well, you will begin to see noticeable results after your initial introductory meeting with everyone, especially if you implement other noticeable changes (like a regular success rhythm) at the same time.
You will continue to see noticeable cultural improvements, as you successfully implement, over the next 2 to 3 years.
Will This Help with New Hiring?
The development of a successful vision and living your organizational core values will dramatically improve your ability to find and attract new talent to your organization. You will stand out from almost every other company in your industry and become an employer of choice for top candidates.
What You Should Do Next
This depends a great deal on where you are in your cultural development journey.
If you do not have a clearly defined, inspirational company vision which meets all the criteria we have outlined above, you must start there. Take the time to develop this. It will pay off endlessly for you.
If everyone in our organization does not know your core values, purpose and mission, you need to start with effectively socializing this. It does no good to have a great, compelling and motivating vision if no one knows about it. You have to make it who you are, not just some work you did on a retreat.
If you need some help determining the next best step, let us know. Our purpose is To Empower Passionate People to Thrive. We’d be happy to chat and help!
Webolutions is a full-spectrum management consulting and strategic growth implementation agency. We help businesses across the country identify and effectively bring their unique stories to life, empowering them to scale faster, smarter, and easier.
Areas of expertise:
- Differentiating Brand Development
- Marketing & Communications Strategies
- Customer Journey Mapping & Execution
- Enterprise Website & Application Development
- Cross-Platform Data Systems Integration
- Organizational Development Strategies
- Team Alignment, Culture, & Performance Solutions
- Business Performance Intelligence Systems
A Special Offer
To speak with one of our experts about how you can implement these strategies for your company of at least $5 million in annual sales, call us at 303-300-2640 and request your Team Alignment Consultation. During this 60-minute introduction, we’ll help you start creating a plan for success. You can also email any questions to [email protected].