I attended a conference recently when someone asked me, “What exactly is a good culture?” That was a great question, considering that a lot of people don’t understand what it is or why it is important. And here was my answer: “Good culture is your team’s understanding of how they are to behave even when you are not around.”
Without that definition, it’s easy to ignore the impact and importance of culture. But when people understand it in those terms, they see why it impacts everything that their employees do. And they understand the precarious predicament they put themselves if they don’t take their culture seriously.
Here are five ways that a good culture benefits your organization.
Our society today has a self-leadership crisis. It doesn’t matter where we look—business, politics, entertainment—we see its effects.
The news regularly reports about the financial improprieties of business executives. Politicians get caught all the time doing something they knew they should not do. And the grocery store tabloid headlines are always proclaiming how such and such movie star is cheating on so-and-so.
Despite how little self-leadership is practiced today, our society depends upon it. Here are three practical ways you can exert your self-leadership.
My family once hosted a foreign exchange student at our house for about a month. When he arrived at our house, his first question to me was “What are the rules at your house?” Not wanting to sound like some kind of ogre, I said, “We don’t have too many rules at our house.” And I told him a couple of rules that we had in our house. And I thought that was that.
Over time, I noticed that he did some things that annoyed me. And my thought was “That’s really rude. Why doesn’t he know any better?”
I told him that I was disappointed with what he was doing. Later he told me, “You didn’t tell me what all the rules were.” Then I realized I couldn’t hold him accountable for something I didn’t tell him. He had asked to know what the rules were, but I didn’t tell him what they all were.
This same thing applies to your employees at your workplace, but they won’t necessarily ask you what the rules of your culture are. That’s incumbent on you to tell them. They won’t know how to operate in your organizational culture if you don’t tell them.
Here are the things you need to tell your people so they know how to follow the rules of your culture.
Our society today has a self-awareness crisis. It doesn’t matter where we look—business, politics, entertainment—we see its effects. The news regularly reports about the financial improprieties of business executives. Politicians get caught all the time doing something they knew they should not do. And the grocery store tabloid headlines are always proclaiming how such and such movie star is cheating on so-and-so.
We see people in positions of authority at our workplaces doing things that we think are ill-informed at best and malicious at worst. We see people around us making poor choices that are out of our control and we shake our heads, saying we would do things differently if given the choice. It seems like everyone around us has lost their mind—everyone except ourselves, of course.
But perhaps we are not so immune from making poor choices as we might think. As Dan Ariely tells us in his book Predictably Irrational, “Even good people are not immune to being partially blinded by their own minds.” Dr. Ariely goes on to explain that “we are pawns in a game whose forces we largely fail to comprehend. We usually think of ourselves as sitting in the driver’s seat, with ultimate control over the decisions we make and the direction our life takes; but, alas, this perception has more to do with our desires—with how we want to view ourselves—than with reality.”
If we are more concerned with how we want to view ourselves than with reality, then we will not be self-aware. And these are three things that will get in the way of our self-awareness.
From all the culture analyses I have performed, I find it interesting that the vast majority of the organizations I survey have shortcomings in the same area. In my surveys, I look at how these organizations score in Appreciation, Morale, Trust, and Communication. In three out of every four organizations, the Culture Competency that needs the most attention is Communication.
I find it particularly interesting that this is true even in organizations with high scores. Even where organizations that otherwise have a good culture foundation still struggle with communicating effectively. And unfortunately, when the Culture Competency of Communication suffers, then all the efforts to build Appreciation, Morale, and Trust are undermined as well.
Here are five reasons why organizations have difficulty with getting the Culture Competency of Communication right.
Superbowl LIV showcased two great teams who provided their fans with an exciting game. But the main event in many lopsided Superbowl contests are the advertisements. The price tag of these ads requires that the companies who pay for them understand exactly how they want to position themselves in order to create a distinctive brand.
Strategic branding requires understanding the relationship between your company and your customer. To strategically brand your product or service, you must know precisely what you want to convey—and why.
Here are three steps to create a distinctive brand.
Vision is a key ingredient for creating culture at any organization. Having vision is about seeing things that others don’t see. Then it’s important to use that vision as a rallying cry. Because vision paints the future as a picture everyone can see.
It is imperative for a leader to know where to lead the organization. In the process of setting that direction, other benefits are generated as a result.
Here are five benefits your vision generates for your culture.
Values are important to corporate culture. Companies go to great lengths to list these lofty sounding concepts. Then they put them on plaques on the wall in their lobbies. But values do not have any power unless those companies operationalize their values.
Simply listing your organization’s values is only the first step. If you stop there, then the list may have the opposite effect. If you do not operationalize your values, your team will likely laugh at them because they ring hollow. Unless operationalized, values will just be words on a plaque.
Once you have identified your values, here are four steps to take so you can operationalize your values.
Your emotional intelligence will be the most important skill in the workforce of the future. With AI becoming more and more a part of the workplace, humans will become more valuable for what makes them distinctively human. Your ability to work with other people will be what sets you apart from machines—and from other humans.
If you are not able to help people become better than they are now, then you may need to think through how you can increase your emotional intelligence. An executive coach may be exactly what you need.
A good executive coach will challenge you to think differently. The thinking that has brought you to where you are now is not the thinking that will bring you to where you want to go. You must be willing to shore up your emotional intelligence in order adapt to the new situations you will encounter in the workplace of the future.
Here are three ways an executive coach can help you grow your emotional intelligence.
In today’s business culture, can a bank attain great bottom line results without merging, acquiring another bank, or adopting a sales culture? According to Jay Stafford—President and CEO of Benchmark Community Bank in Kenbridge, Virginia—the answer is yes.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jay. A Fredericksburg native, Jay married a Southside girl and moved to Lunenburg County, a mostly agricultural area near her hometown of Blackstone, where tobacco was once the primary cash crop. Although he has seen the area deteriorate over the years, he is very passionate about what he does there and wants to make a difference in this community. He knows that Benchmark Community Bank is one of the larger employers in the area, and if Benchmark went away, then the town would be severely impacted.
Jay said that 50% of his employees have been with Benchmark less than five years, not because of turnover but because of growth. He said their culture has been instrumental in contributing to that growth.
In his own words, here’s how Jay Stafford has grown Benchmark Community Bank and its great bottom line results through building the right culture.