Talk it up: Three Conversations that can strengthen your company culture
Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level – Peter Drucker
Writing for Talent Management and HR (http://bit.ly/1KWCe2t), John Hollon cites a survey concerning the state of employee engagement. Among his finding that employers need to pay attention to include: More than 54 percent of employees have felt frustrated about work; only 38 percent of workers strongly agree that their manager has established a strong working relationship with them; some forty percent say they don’t get their company’s vision, or worse yet, have never seen it; nearly 67 percent of American workers can name at least one thing that would prevent them from taking any kind of risk at work.
With survey results like the one mentioned above - coupled with all the talk about company culture - it’s safe to say that there is a disconnect between what we want and what we actually have. But does it have to be this way? What steps can be taken to turn it around?
All of the answers and possible solutions will not be covered in this space. But hopefully it will serve as a catalyst for an honest assessment and how to move forward in your own organization. I think it begins with priorities in what we communicate. Here are three ways to make a difference.
Talk up your values
Your organization is only as strong as the values you subscribe to and in the way you practice them. Building a workplace culture on clearly articulated values reinforces your purpose and gives a sense of meaning and buy-in on the part of your people.
In the book, Full Steam Ahead, Ken Blanchard and Jesse Lyn Stoner write, “Values provide broad guidelines on how you should proceed as you pursue your purpose and picture of the future. They need to be clearly described so you know exactly the behaviors that demonstrate that the value is being lived. They need to be consistently acted on, or they are only “good intentions”.”
If your values are not clear, regularly communicated and subscribed to, then your organizational culture is adrift. Talk up your values and keep them before your people. When your people know where they are going - and why - they will show up not out of duty but for a compelling purpose.
Talk up your purpose
Your purpose is your “why”. It’s your heartbeat as a leader. Knowing your “why” gives life and work meaning and direction. The same principle is applicable to your company culture. When your people know the “why” of the organization then they can understand the importance of the role they play in advancing it.
In his book, It’s Not About the Coffee, former Starbucks International President Howard Behar writes, “At Starbucks, I’ve always said we’re not in the coffee business serving people, we’re in the people business serving coffee.” And this is at the heart of knowing your “why” and why that is so important. Do you know the answer to your “why”?
Your people will never rally around and devote themselves to an organization that doesn’t know its “why” and how it relates them and to their future. If you want to build your culture start by talking up your purpose. If you don’t know your “why” then neither do your people.
Talk up your vision
When some forty percent of workers don’t know their company’s vision or have never seen it then it’s time to get real about company culture. So let’s take a moment and get real: As an employee, do you know what your company’s values are? As an employer, when was the last time you communicated your values?
When your organizational values and purposes are clear in the hearts and minds of your people then they will naturally gravitate to your vision for the future. When team members buy-in to the leadership, and understand the “why”, then they will begin to look at their role in a different way.
Talking up values is not a one-time proposition or something to tuck away in a discarded employee manual. As Blanchard and Stoner state, “Visioning is an ongoing process; you need to keep it talking about it.”
The challenges of building a healthy company culture are real and ever-evolving. It takes a leader with insight, a teachable attitude, and a willingness to improve on all levels to make it work. By talking up your values, your purpose, and your vision, you can instill in your people a greater understanding of where they are, why they are there, and where they are going.
Talk it up!
© 2016 Doug Dickerson
Doug Dickerson is an internationally recognized leadership speaker, columnist, and author. A Lowcountry resident, Doug is available to speak for your civic, business, or church group. For more information visit Dougdickerson.wordpress.com.