When you get the workplace culture right, everything falls into place.
When it comes to building company culture, success and how culture is defined mean different things to different people.
In addition, leaders often struggle to manage the day-to-day responsibilities of leading an organization while also effectively creating a better and healthier culture.
According to renowned keynote speaker and leadership consultant Matt Mayberry, culture cannot be an afterthought or something that leaders delegate to others.
Mayberry guides and supports senior leaders in clarifying the role of culture and how to create one that improves not only the health of the organization but also its overall performance.
I recently interviewed Mayberry to discuss immediate steps that leaders can take to transform the culture of their organization.
5 ways to transform your organization’s culture
Mayberry emphasized that many leaders recognize the value of culture but lack a strategy for driving real change. In his new book, CULTURE IS THE WAY: How Leaders at Every Level Build an Organization for Speed, Impact, and Excellence, he explains the strategies he has used over the years to help leading companies build a high-performing culture
- Identify what your organization cares deeply about
A thorough understanding of your organization’s overall purpose is required. Both internally and externally. The impact will be minimal if there is no understanding and clear connection between the mission and overall purpose. What is the overall existence of your organization for both employees and customers/clients?
- Look at where the organization is and where you want it to be
“It is critical for leaders to analyze and assess the current state of the organization before imagining its future state,” said Mayberry. Leaders should not only discuss and debate among themselves, but should also solicit feedback from the rest of the organization on how people truly feel. Once there is a firm understanding of the current reality and a compelling vision of the future, the path forward becomes clearer, as does the gap that must be bridged.
- Determine what must happen to bridge that gap
To get from where the culture is to where you want it to be–or your “North Star” culture–workplace leaders should take the time to consider their culture on a larger scale, beginning with a few questions:
- What are the specific mindsets, behaviors, and actions that must be implemented at scale across the organization in order to bring the desired culture to life?
- What are the limiting mindsets, behaviors, and actions of the past that people must abandon?
- Is there an equal emphasis on driving organizational health as well as performance for every initiative implemented?
- Define what you want the organization to stand for
What are the non-negotiable expectations for advancing the culture? These are the performance standards that help to align, impact, and inspire the entire organization. Although words alone do not create culture, you should identify a statement or mantra that encapsulates the culture you desire. This serves as your organization’s cultural purpose statement, which is the internal compass for the work environment it is cultivating. Every company has core values, but are those values translated into specific and daily behavior statements outlining how those values can be lived on a daily basis?
- Find the organization’s most significant impact area
“Most efforts to transform or change organizational culture fall flat because there are too many initiatives underway without a clear focus on the highest impact areas,” Mayberry shared. Every organization has a few initiatives that will have an exponentially greater impact than others. Mayberry says the “Pareto Principle” certainly applies to culture transformation: 80% of your results will come from 20% percent of your efforts. He urges leaders to take inventory on a regular basis by conducting weekly and monthly pulse checks, as well as employee surveys. “Be adaptable,” he says, “and don’t be afraid to let go of what isn’t working.”
Mayberry believes that building culture is some of the most important work that leaders will do throughout their careers. Employees not only deserve an inspiring and healthy work environment in which to do their best work, but the intangible aftereffects, which are often difficult to quantify, will make the journey worthwhile. He says, “when you get the culture right, everything else seems to fall into place from there.”