How to build an intentional culture, part 2

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This is the second installment in a three-part series on building an intentional workplace culture. What tips and suggestions do you have for building a better organizational culture? Join us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn this week to share your thoughts. –Andrea Davis, Managing Editor

Commentary: In my last post on building an intentional culture, I emphasized that culture is the single most important factor in an organization’s success or failure. And it really is – because it enables strategy. This is why it’s so important to be intentional about your culture and to align it with your business strategy.

I also outlined the first three steps in building an intentional culture, which focus on acknowledging that culture exists in your company, explaining why it matters, defining it and educating your people on cultural expectations. Once you’ve opened a dialogue and set some parameters, it’s time to up the ante. Here’s how, with steps 4-6:

4. Hold people accountable for the culture and set some metrics. I know, measurement isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s so important to hold people accountable for “living the culture,” particularly leadership. If you’re building an open culture, are executives readily accessible (preferably not locked behind closed doors or glass walls)? If you have a culture of improvement – as we do at Limeade – do people have the resources to grow both personally and professionally? Are they setting challenging but attainable goals, meeting with mentors and improving their performance every quarter? Include these metrics in performance reviews (the more frequent, the better – we prefer quarterly at Limeade) to emphasize the importance of walking the culture walk. You might also consider building a culture index (a small set of survey items that are custom to the culture you’re trying to achieve) into your employee survey. Another option is to develop a developmental 360 for leaders and managers that provide feedback on how well they’re demonstrating the culture.

5. Empower your culture champions. In every organization, there are always respected leaders – both formal and informal – who are great ambassadors of your culture. Make sure these culture rock stars know they’re regarded for upholding the culture, give them free rein to align their management or work style, and consider how you might formally and informally recognize them as culture “keepers.”

6. Communicate regularly about the culture. This goes back to being upfront and acknowledging that a culture exists in your company and that the organization is being intentional about it. Tell your people that it’s key to your success. Tell them how it aligns with and enables your business strategy and why it’s critical that everyone takes ownership for living the culture. Feature employees who are culture champions – maybe even hold a contest asking people to nominate others who are models for living the culture. And make sure communications align with your culture as well – if your organization is more formal and structured, your communications should be as well. If things are more casual and on-the-fly, the tone of your communications should reflect that.

Once you’ve got accountability, metrics, champions and communications in place, it’s time to really weave your culture through the organization. In the next post, we’ll look at how to reinforce the culture to propel you further toward business success.

Laura Hamill, Ph.D., ischief people officer with Limeade.

Also see: How to build an intentional workplace culture

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