We get asked about Culture more than any other topic.
“How do we get a great Culture?”
“How do I keep our original Culture as we grow?”
“How do we fix a bad Culture?”
“How do I make sure every person lives the Culture?”
“How do I create energy in our Culture?”
“How do I fix Culture?”
“How do I deal with the person who challenges Culture?”
It’s the same questions from giant clients through to from tiny start-ups that are just beginning to grow.
We ask three questions back.
First question – “What do you think Culture is?”
What is most surprising is that almost everyone describes culture as something like “the way we work around here”, or “the way we work together”, or “how it feels to work here”, or “how it feels to work with us”. They also almost add something like “it’s the most important thing in my business”.
Second question – “How do you talk about Culture?”
The answer is usually one of two things. It’s either “we have written our values out and that’s how we talk about culture” or it’s “we’ve been meaning to get together and write our values down so that we can talk about Culture”.
And the final question – “When did you last talk about Culture?”
The answer to that is almost always “we’ve been really busy, so we haven’t had a chance to talk Culture for a while”. When pushed, most leaders cannot remember talking about Culture, (often since those ‘Values’ were originally distributed) and they immediately want to diarise a date to talk Culture.
And right there in those three answers is the biggest Culture issues that most businesses have.
- They know Culture is about relationships and how they work together.
- They want to communicate it in the form of a static list of dot points.
- They haven’t got around to talking about it for a long time.
The other question we ask, when we’ve been working with someone for a little while is “would you talk about any other relationship you value, using a five bullet point communication tool (usually in power-point or a hokey poster format)?” and the answer is always a resounding “No!” and usually a lot of laughter.
When we talk Culture, we all get what it is and we get why it matters.
It’s how we work together and from that, how we work with others, like our partners and customers.
Get that right, and everyone wants to be part of your team. They love it, and they give you their best, and everyone is happy, and they stay and thrive in your business or on your team. Your customers comment on it, and there’s a queue at your door to join the team.
Get it wrong, and you’re forever holding ‘town halls’ to remind people what culture is, (or more likely what you would like it to be) and designing strange activities to try and bring it to life.
Great culture lives. In the relationships. In the way you talk about it. In the way you lead. In the way you treat each other. In the way you look after every customer, supplier and partner. It needs no power-point, nor bullet points.
What it does need is great commitment, role models, checks and balances, an open door to feedback, great communication, a rhythm in the way you work, and meandering conversations that every person on your team and every customer can freely join.
We couldn’t agree more that Culture is THE most important asset you have in any business. Like most valuable things, it’s also one of the most fragile and the most in need of great care and respect.
Culture is one of our favourite topics.
And, there is no mwah. content that is more used by our clients.
Top of the charts every single week.
We’d love to help you get as confident as we are with it. After all, if we get culture right, we’ll absolutely be making work more human.