Leaders often have a vision for what they want the culture of the organization to be like, but fail to understand the importance of the small details that lead to the behaviors needed to develop that culture.
As a leader, it’s essential to model the behaviors needed to change the culture. Actions always speak louder than words. Your people are constantly watching “who you be” as a leader. How can you determine what behaviors you want to model in order to elevate the culture?
Build a Culture on Values
It starts with identifying core values. First, have the team agree on values. Then they can then identify behaviors that support those values, and behaviors that indicate you’re not living those values. We take teams through a process to identify and define their values. This way, they can then come up with the behaviors they want to see. The whole team takes ownership of the process; this creates greater buy-in.
One of the most common mistakes we see organizations make is that they have a list of core values that’s too long. On a bad day, people can only remember three things. So, if you have more than three core values, you have too many. Our training takes teams through a process to hone their values down. Leaving only those that are the most essential to the essence of the business.
When we do team training to help companies with culture, we always start by identifying ground rules. These are seemingly small agreements that set the stage for a new way of being. This helps the culture to develop. Now, teams get to practice these new behaviors in the safe space of a facilitated training.
The Rules Make a Difference
Common ground rules include:
- Put cell phones away and on silent
- If you usually speak first, go last
- If you usually speak last, go first
- Let everyone speak before you speak again
- Practice active listening
The cell phone rule inevitably gets broken. The senior leader is usually the first culprit. They comply when we say, “Thank you for putting your phone away” to them, but they’ve given implicit permission for others to take their phones out at some point. That kind of “bad behavior” undermines their efforts to build a better culture.
The next four rules shake people out of their routines. This stimulates a better brainstorming of ideas. It’s easier said than done. We usually have to remind people repeatedly; routine behavior is difficult to break in one training. It’s important to shake things up. If you act like you’ve always behaved, you’ll get the same results you’ve always gotten.
Getting End Results
By practicing in the container of a facilitated training, they learn how to hold each other accountable for these small behaviors. They reap the benefits of being more fully present without the distraction of their phones. After, as difficult as it was for people to keep their hands off their phones, we constantly hear that they appreciated the rule.
When they go back to the office, they leave better equipped. They can hold each other accountable to the agreed-upon behaviors related to the culture they collectively want to develop. Those small behaviors, practiced consistently, create the foundational building blocks for a better culture.
Johanna Lyman is the Founder and CEO of NextGen Orgs. She is a Leadership Consultant and Executive Coach with over fifteen years of experience in implementing organization wide change strategies for both Fortune 500 companies and Small Businesses.
At NextGen Orgs, we use a combination of unique delivery methods and processes to get results. These methods crack the code on establishing lasting organizational behavior changes and do so in a relatively short period of time. Our proprietary and evolutionary system can eliminate months of leadership-related frustration. Therefore, empowering employees to develop strong leadership and build a cohesive, collaborative team.
Johanna is a professional speaker, available to speak on a variety of topics related to culture, communication, innovation, and leadership skills. She is the Board President for the Bay Area Chapter of Conscious Capitalism. She is deeply versed in how to help businesses have an impact and be a force for good in the world. Learn more (URL: https://www.nextgenorgs.com/about/). Contact Johanna at firstname.lastname@example.org