A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people. Mahatma Gandhi
This is pretty simple really. We spend a lot time understanding, developing and modeling our culture. It is a passionate pursuit in which we never believe we have finished or completed. In fact, this passion is what requires us to study, develop new tools and get creative around the best and most effective ways to teach, transmit and truly live into our culture. We know we are hitting the mark when we SEE it playing out in the lives and work of our team and residents. For us it is known as the Garden Spot Experience and looks like this, in a very simplified form:
With this simplified understanding, we have spent time and resources creating a deck of slides describing the culture for new and existing teammates (borrowed this idea from Netflix!), our creative team created a manifesto and we are working with an excellent graphic artist to draw the culture. We are also exploring a series of videos to reinforce visually what we see on paper. We are open to any ways to get the teaching out there – and not bound by format, approach, colors or anything else – as long as it authentically relays our culture, it is good and welcomed…
So, what are we learning on this journey forward:
- Invest in culture. It matters, a lot. Great organizations spend time and resources understanding and developing their culture and a quick survey and analysis is a great way to get going. We are well versed in using a Barrett Cultural Values approach as it provides an excellent survey based, factual understanding of the values of your team, your organization and what will be required in the future. Connect with us about our approach to working with you to understand and develop your culture and add needed tools to teach your culture. We bring deep experience, fresh perspectives and tools to help you and your team explore this critical area.
- Stop Spinning Your Wheels. My experience in working with non-profits throughout my career shows that without a strong culture that supports your unique mission, it is almost impossible to move forward, take new steps and grow. So many leaders make the mistake of thinking that a strong tactical plan, communicated well is all that is needed and completely MISS the need for a strong cultural focus to ensure that there is complete alignment, resourcefulness and capacity to execute. Culture fuels the process.
- Leaders Own and Live their Culture. We see many CEOs and senior leaders delegating this responsibility to human resources, or wellness, or somewhere in their middle management. It never works like that. CEOs and senior leaders must own their culture, model it and lead into it. Nobody else can provide this needed guidance.
- Don’t Over Complicate It. We see our culture as one, not a conglomeration of separate cultures stitched together. That means that our residents, team members, board, volunteers, constituents and everyone we are blessed to meet and work with are all working under the same overarching cultural standards and practices. While we understand the nature of sub-cultures, a sub-culture can never overrule or overshadow the culture you are developing and prefer.
- It’s never complete; it’s never crossed off the list. We are constantly learning more about our culture and how to grow and enhance it. It is really, really good now, but not perfect by any measure.
- Be Flexible. We love new ideas and we love new ways to teach culture and welcome times when one of our team members sees something we missed.
- Be Authentic. In our world, we are so attuned and able to see fake support, to see through a well-orchestrated marketing pitch that we reject organizations that profess to be one thing, but act differently. Remember with all the information, opinions and reviews across the internet, trend watchers tell us that our organizations are now glass houses that everyone can see into and through.
- Finally Remind Yourself of the Benefits. Culture work is not easy, but the returns are amazing. Some of the impacts include higher sales/customer awareness of your product or service, workforce development (ability to attract and retain talented team members), increased profitability and more resources (provided by engaged and equipped teams living into the culture), better sleep at night knowing that you are fully engaged in this process and of course, knowing that your work and effort is directly benefitting many. Contact us, we would love to help!
Steve Jeffrey is the Co-Founder/Guild Master of ForgeWorks and is passionate about building great foundations in people and non-profit organizations. His work is focused on innovation, strategy, affiliations and cultural alignment.