10 Ways to Build a Winning Culture

By: MarkWeaver Monday April 13, 2015 comments

“The mission of Philip Crosby Associates is to provide lives for our associates, and to improve the quality of goods and services around the world.”  I suspect all 300 or so of us who had the opportunity to work for Best-Selling author and Quality Guru Phil Crosby can still recite that.
The mission was very visible.  It was on everything – brochures, reports, walls…  More importantly though, it – along with the vision, the values, and the norms - was lived.  In other words, the mission wasn’t just some catchy marketing gimmick, it defined the culture.  And the culture rocked.  It was very easy to recruit, very easy to sell, very easy to attract investors, even very easy to deal with adverse circumstances.
Every organization has a culture – either by intention or by default.  It is created by everything the leaders do, say, promote, or allow.  You can create a winning culture.  It's easier if you start early enough in the game.  It takes more time if your organization has been in existence for a while.  If your culture has been toxic, or has been defined by default and has eroded to whatever the least common denominator is, it takes longer.  But it can be done.  Here’s how:
1.       Decide what you want.  What you really want is what you’ll ultimately get.  Your culture has to be something that you want to put your life into.  Leaders who are vague about what they want get a culture defined by default.
2.       Define it.  In a vacuum of a lack of definition, well-meaning people will morph your culture into what they think is best.  Far enough down that path, you will be working in an organization that looks little like what you wanted to be part of.  That’s culture by default.
3.       Help others see it.  Talk about the culture so much that people are tired of hearing you talk about the culture.  Leaders tend to be visionary; others may not be.  That doesn’t mean they don’t want to see; it could be that they need direction or focus.  Be intentional.
4.       Hire people who fit.  Never hire for skills alone… or just to fill an opening.  People with the same education, credentials, and experience, but very different values, norms, and “wiring” are not equally viable candidates.  You can train and grow expertise; you can’t train or grow fit.
5.       Promote those who embody your culture.  Promote someone who has good skills or results but who is at odds with the culture you’ve defined, and your culture will suffer.  Promote those who are in sync with the culture – who will continue to promote it as a manager.
6.       Confront deviations.  What you fail to confront, you condone.  That’s called tacit approval.  When you tacitly approve of behaviors, direction, actions, or words that are not what your culture is supposed to be, you diminish your culture.
7.       Part ways with those who don’t fit.  Continuing to retain an employee who is not a good fit hurts your culture.  That's because the way people do what they do can outweigh the results they get.  There are ways to part ways with dignity.
8.       Live it.  Actions speak louder than words.  Be sure that your actions are consistent with everything you’ve said about your culture.  When yours aren’t, own your mistake, fix it, learn from it, prevent it from recurring, and move on.
9.       Be accountable.  We all have those pesky blind spots.  The best way to keep yours from undermining what you want, is to empower people around you to point out when you aren’t being true to you, and to your culture.  Be sure you’ve got the right people around you.
10.    Screen decisions.  Choose to make decisions that are compatible with your culture.  Decline the ones that aren’t.  Reinforce your culture further by being clear about why you made the decisions that you made.  Help your team see that culture drives decisions.
Life is too short, and you spend too much of it working not to enjoy the culture you work in.  Open Door HR Solutions helps organizations create a culture that is worth pouring your life into.  The impact though, is greater than enjoyment.

About the Author: MarkWeaver


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