Way back in the 1990s, there was only the hope of a snowy day, fear of torrential rain, or expectation of sunshine—not the level of certainty we see with current weather forecasting technology. Regardless of your area, Doppler radar can predict with pinpoint accuracy everything from wind speed, inches of snow, and the exact time you’ll need your raincoat during the day. The actual weather forecast of your corporate culture is much harder to predict. The good thing is that we have a real chance to change the weather at work for good.
Can culture really be measured?
Culture is difficult to measure because it is multidimensional. The aspects that make up culture—its values, assumptions, and norms—cannot be fully assessed using quantitative metrics alone. They require pulse checks, conversations and qualitative data points. At its core, a strong corporate culture (one that emphasizes inclusion, belonging, and opportunity for all) also produces a range of traceable behaviors. People look at this normative behavior to understand what is acceptable.
Culture compared to what?
People wake up every day and choose where they work. Part of an employee’s commitment to work for your organization should be engaging in behavior that aligns with the company’s values. According to digital advertising company Lucidity, the four most common corporate values are teamwork, customer focus, respect and integrity, all of which are deeply intertwined with inclusive fair behavior. Thus, examining the degree and consistency of teamwork, respect and integrity would be the starting point for a company with those values to gauge the current or future direction of their people culture.
More than words on the wall, bringing company values to life can be as easy (or just as challenging) as bringing people together to talk about what they mean and agree on what behaviors fit each value. The action steps below can be used with leaders as well as with small groups of multifunctional teams:
1. Values in action planning. Assemble a diverse team to plan a series of work sessions. Be mindful when assembling a group with a strong ‘in the field’ presence to avoid giving the impression that this is just an HR program.
2. Discussion workshops on real stories. Start by organizing several choice sessions where people come together to describe what they see and hear to identify patterns of biased or exclusive behavior that should be given emphasis or a greater sense of urgency.
3. Values one by one. Send your people on a learning journey that includes a deep dive into each business value. Involve operational leaders and individual employees to describe their personal connection to each value. Create a learning path and inject small learning moments that help employees recognize the obvious benefit of aligning their behavior with each value.
4. Restart your values. The last step in this process is essential. Collect everything people have learned and share it in an authentic way. Paint a picture of how values have played out (or not) in the past, then offer an inspiring message about how we can move forward together. Attract charismatic leaders to amplify this message.
During this pandemic, we’ve seen how macro factors can hurt the most certain forecasts.
Managing through uncertainty as well as economic shifts, both at home and at work, have challenged our ability to see beyond next week, let alone next year. As we prepare to take the final turn in 2021, resetting corporate culture, collecting an honest account of everyday experiences, and proactively working to encourage and celebrate your company’s core values in action will help transform your business environment. form into a climate that is sunny and warm and inclusive for all for years to come.