Repeat after me: “My organization’s culture is an outcome of what we collectively believe about the organization and how we behave alongside each other as a result of those beliefs.”
So, what do you believe about your organization? Over the course of this blog and three to follow, brief introductions to ten culture-embedding mechanisms will provide you a set of levers with which to intentionally shift and set your culture into what you need it to be.
Set #1: The Most Visible Mechanisms
- Clearly articulated and creatively communicated identity statements. When it comes to core values, purposeful mission, and a compelling vision, are the top leaders clearly aligned on what they are and what they look like when leaned into and lived out? Clarity and proactive alignment help you see the road and gain traction.
- Language and messaging that is congruent with those identity statements. When verbal and nonverbal communications are congruent with each other, culture is more easily sensed and understood. If people use words, phrases, and meanings that consistently articulate the “Company Way”, alignment is more easily maintained.
- Meaningful metrics. Alone, measurements are meaningless until they are analyzed, interpreted, shared with those who need the information and interpretation, and used to shape expectations, outcomes, and performance that generates momentum where needed. To matter, metrics need intentional feedback loops that include clarity on what is important to measure relative to mission, traction, and outcomes. Unless you provide an answer to “Why?”, all you might get is “Why bother?”.
- Leadership that is actually followed. A top priority of those in leadership (some would say THE top priority) is the shaping of culture. This is because “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and leadership is about strategically mobilizing people’s hearts and minds toward an organization’s preferred future through the adaptive navigation of challenges and opportunities. Leaders get the culture they create…or the culture they allow.
- Teams that keep becoming, not merely doing. Work can be done by individuals, through work groups, or through teams (there is a difference). Essential to shaping a culture is the degree to which the people involved also lean into learning. When it comes to effective team-learning, team members remain engaged in helping each other get better at becoming better at doing the stuff that can only be done as a team.
The above set of mechanisms involves those elements that involve some degree of conscious awareness on a daily basis — the people that get things done for the organization and the basic elements of communication that help those people move forward with a sense of common understanding.
Our next two blogs will introduce mechanisms that exist in every organization at Less Visible and Nearly Invisible levels of awareness.