The workplace has transformed dramatically within the last 50 years, with a highly accelerated change transpiring throughout the pandemic. We have shifted from strictly physical spaces to hybrid and fully remote environments – the idea of home offices have transitioned from being superfluous to essential. Creating a cohesive team of individuals who meaningfully contribute to your vision becomes increasingly complex when you take them out of joint rooms and place them behind Zoom screens.
The question becomes: How do we unite distributed teams and employees to accelerate towards our shared vision? Workplace Culture serves as the unifying thread and driving force of impact.
But how do we create a culture that produces meaningful business impact?
Culture (n): the primary bonding mechanism of your company; the shared set of beliefs, values, behaviors, attitudes, and systems crucial to the execution of your business strategy.
Why it Matters: Culture directly reflects the way your people communicate, innovate, deliver to your customer, and compete. The cumulative behavior of your people impacts results, productivity, and growth.
Steps for Creating Culture:
- Start with your Vision
- Support your Vision with your Mission
- Articulate Actionable Core Values
1. Start with your Vision
Vision (n): “The WHERE.” The uniting purpose of your business that outlines your company’s aspirational end state. Your vision generates clarity, inspires action and gives your people direction.
Human beings need to feel like their work is making an impact and driving a greater purpose. Consider the following quote:
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs, Co-Founder & Former CEO of Apple
The right vision creates buy-in from your stakeholders, and customers – it should play on human emotion, not logic and it should be inspirational, not tactical.
Ask yourself: What is your ideal end goal? What will the world look like when you have succeeded? What will pull your employees forward?
2. Support your Vision with your Mission
Mission (n): “The “WHAT and for WHO.” Your mission outlines what you are doing today to accelerate towards your long-term vision.
While your vision exists in the future, your mission exists in the present. What do you offer? Who is your target audience?
Consider the below examples of Vision and Mission statements:
Generating buy-in from your people begins with an inspiring vision and it must be supported by an effective mission. Think of an effective mission as the guardrails to your business’s path, clearly defining who you intend to serve and how you plan on serving them.
3. Articulate Actionable Core Values
Core Values (n): “The HOW.” Core values determine how your people will execute your mission and accelerate towards your vision.
The earlier you begin the process of creating and integrating your core values, the more likely they are to stick, scale and enable your business to thrive. This is because it is more difficult to infuse new behaviors and expectations, rather than hiring for them in the beginning.
Begin this process by understanding where you are; engage with your people to create core values that are authentic to your business – authenticity is critical to adoption and success. Through this process, you will be able to identify common themes and from these themes, your values are born!
Consider the following questions to begin your process:
- What sets you apart from other cultures?
- How do you work together?
- How do you innovate?
- How do you compete?
- How do we inspire?
Use this list to stoke conversation within your business – this selection of questions is not all-encompassing but it is a great place to start. From here, you can draft a list of concise core values, the sweet spot tends to hover around 3 and no more than 5. Continue to iterate this list until you have a set of values that support your vision, reflect your company and excite execution.
Ensure that these core values are specific and actionable to ensure that you will be able to observe and measure the manifestation and embodiment of each value in your team members.
For example, your people will have a hard time acting on the core value, “Integrity” This is because not only can “acting with Integrity” (lacks specificity) look different for everybody but it is impossible to measure due to its subjectivity.
Rather, think of the behaviors associated with integrity that are rewarded within your environment and distill them until they can only be interpreted in the way that you mean it. Perhaps in this case, by you mean “Keep Your Promises,” this personifies “Integrity” by defining how it lives and breathes within your company.
It is not sufficient to create core values, communicate them, and hope that they stick. In order to effectively integrate and leverage your core values as a driving force of success, you must build them into your ecosystem. This means incorporating them in every aspect of your employee lifecycle, from hiring employees, to transitioning them out.
The symbiotic relationship between your vision, mission and core values construct the foundation of your company culture. Your vision will invigorate your people with direction and purpose, your mission will inform what you are doing today to achieve your vision and your core values will determine how you execute.
By investing in your culture now, you are ultimately investing in the long-term success of your business. If you take this process seriously, you will receive long term dividends of productivity, retention and growth.