Last week we focused on the early stages of initiating a culture transformation. If you have not read that post already, I suggest you read 7 steps to a culture transformation.

In this post, we will focus on the steps that directly follow the initial two steps. By now, you have a deep understanding of your team’s culture. Again, when we say team, this could be a department, shift, facility, division, or an entire organization.

This level of understanding allowed you to remove/reassign the employees identified as unfitting your desired culture. Now is time to roll up your sleeves and put your imprint in the organization by creating a healthy work environment for your employees. This type of transformation is what leaders do.

Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur. Develop a strong corporate culture first and foremost.”

— David Cummings, Co-founder, Pardot

The following activities are the essence of your cultural identity and enable you to create a movement which your entire team will rally around:

  1. Build Your Leadership Team – Business leaders cannot create cultural transformation by themselves. A leader can be a catalyst, initiator, and motivator. However, cultural change requires behavior change. A single leader cannot be present in every situation to influence and provoke that change in the entire organization. The Jim Collins quote, “First who then what” from his book “Good to great” applies here. The task here is to create a cohesive leadership team that has low levels of dysfunction. Starting with high levels of trust and that can be vulnerable with one another when discussing issues. Refer to the book: 5 dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni, to learn how to attain this elusive result. Remember, this team will be the stewards of your cultural identity, and they should come together to support each other, regardless of their functional responsibilities. This team should have the mentality of business leaders as opposed to functional managers.
  2. Define your culture – Engage your leadership team in developing your cultural identity. Your leadership team will create a set of expectations for the entire organization that will create clarity and alignment in the following areas:
  • Purpose: The reason for the organization or team to exist.
  • Focus: The value the organization provides society.
  • Values: Desired behaviors for employees at all levels.
  • Success pillars: Principles that make the organization successful.
  • Priorities: The current objectives of the organization.
  • Responsibilities: The key activities that each leader and team are responsible for.

With your cultural identity defined, you are in a prime position to make the shift from whatever your current state culture is to this newly defined culture.

  1. Systemize & Overcommunicate Your Culture: In this step is where many business leaders fall short. Without this step, the previous steps become meaningless. The reason is that few leaders know how to embed their cultural identity into their business. Start by identifying the critical business processes that influence your team makeup and their behaviors. Every business process should contain some or all your cultural identity elements. For instance, if you are making personnel decisions (hiring, firing, reassigning, or promoting), your values should be present in all company documentation and leader behaviors. Completing this process will allow you to transform the rest of the team further as you will attract and keep people aligned with your cultural identity and repel the ones that do not align.

As we mentioned earlier, each member of your leadership team is a steward of the cultural identity. This role expects that they become communicators and advocates of the message. Every interaction is an opportunity to reinforce that message through coaching, guidance, intolerance, accountability, and leading by example.

I will leave you with this quote from an unknown leader:

“If you do not develop your corporate culture, it will develop itself. Corporate culture does not happen by accident, and if it does, you’re taking a risk.”

Please tune in next week as we wrap up this three-part series and discuss the last two steps to complete a cultural transformation.

If you are dealing with a toxic culture, and you would like to discuss your specific situation please schedule a call.

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