Thursday, June 23, 2016

5 Steps to Communicate and Build an Aligned Culture

5 puzzles pieces are numbered to indicate 5 action steps

Sure, organizational culture can just evolve organically. But is there any guarantee that the culture that evolves is the culture you want or that can help your organization perform and succeed long-term? 

Corporate cultures that help to propel a business and talent strategy forward are best built purposefully and intentionally by leaders who understand what it will take for the business strategy and the workforce to thrive. Effective leaders build a high performing and aligned organizational culture through a system of strategic alignment, clear communication, accountability, transparency and positive reinforcement. The process begins by relying upon what we all learned in basic communication skills training: clear, consistent messaging that takes into account the preferred communication style of your audience.

Step One: Define the desired corporate culture and why it’s important.
Your corporate culture should fit with, support and create leverage for your business and talent strategies. Our organizational alignment research shows that when a business strategy and an organizational culture are aligned, along with being in sync with your talent, you outperform your peers in terms of revenue by 58%, profit by 72% and employee engagement 16.8-to-1.  Explain to your employees why your corporate culture matters to you, them and the business. It is the way you behave and how you get things done, day in and day out. Explain what it would look like in your organization. Do you run a tight ship? Then your dress code and communications should reflect a more formal structure. Do you want a company culture that is more relaxed and innovative? Then you would be more comfortable with flexible hours and casual dress. 

Step Two: Set expectations.
Be clear about what cultural attributes you are looking for in your employees. How do you expect people to work together? Which matters more in your environment, individual contribution or team collaboration? Do you value an open style of communication or more careful, guarded conversations? Employees need to understand your expectations so they have a standard to uphold and to reach.

Step Three: Integrate culture throughout the company.
Culture needs to be supported by company practices, processes, procedures and systems. Interviewers need to hire for cultural fit. Reward systems need to value the culture you seek. Make sure performance reviews reinforce the desired behaviors. Do you want to encourage teamwork for instance? Then don’t pit one employee’s accomplishments against another’s.

Step Four: Evaluate and measure.
Set up a measurement system that holds leaders and workers accountable for incorporating culturally-reinforcing behaviors into their everyday performance. There should be a timely, fair, accurate and transparent feedback loop that encourages behaviors that support the culture and discourages behaviors that don’t.

Step Five: Recognize and reward culture ambassadors.
There will be some standouts who fully embody the culture. Recognize and praise them for living the culture and hold them up as examples for others to emulate.

Communicate your corporate culture with your words (clear, compelling, consistent, simple to understand) and your actions. Employees look to you as their leader. When you model the behaviors you want, they will follow.

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