Healthy cultures are not a product of chance, they’re a product of choice. To assess your own workplace culture, ask three questions:
1. Has your culture been defined?
2. Has your culture been communicated?
3. Has your culture been taught?
Has your culture been defined?
Great culture doesn’t just happen, and any truly healthy workplace starts with the intention to be one. You must start with a clearly defined vision for the type of workplace you want to build. Your vision will need refining and evolving over time, because this journey never has a finish line. Your vision should be compelling, and I believe your culture should have a name.
Has your culture been communicated?
Intentional cultivation marks healthy cultures. Defining the vision doesn’t ensure progress, you will need to frequently communicate it and clearly articulate it. Leaders must speak of it often. Team members will tell and retell the company’s story, each one knowing the personal role they play in achieving it. Clients hear about it, then feel it. And candidates will want to be a part of it as they see your culture come to life in the recruiting process.
Has your culture been taught?
Unless you teach your culture, it will not be consistent nor will it be sustainable. What do I mean by “teach” your culture? Healthy cultures set clear expectations for the behaviors that bring the culture to life. In comparison, Disney uses the word, “operationalize.”
In other words, behaviors are defined—what is expected and what isn’t acceptable. Therefore, you teach your people the necessary competencies and skills to live out those behaviors, holding them accountable when they don’t. (And rewarding them when they do!) Above all, you teach that culture impacts everything:
- recruiting, hiring and onboarding
- learning and development
- leadership pipelines
- performance management
- meeting structures
- celebration and rewards
- and every other area of your business
To sum up, there are two types of workplace cultures: cultures by design and cultures by default. Cultures by design win every time.