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Culture Turnarounds: How to Rapidly, Efficiency, and Effectively Get Workplace Culture Back on Track

By Leo Ramirez Posted on September 15, 2020

Over the past several years, a spotlight has emerged on corporate culture. It’s not just something that Millennials and Generation-Zers in the workplace seek. Rather, it’s widely recognized as a key indicator of business performance and health from which your business deepens relationships, teamwork, and satisfaction. Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Great cultures evoke joy, meaning, and purpose and attract and retain talent that withstands self-inflicted, economic, societal, and competitive threats.

For some organizations, culture work is a continuation of what they’ve been doing all along: fostering a culture that aligns with its people and their values. For others, it’s an uphill battle as they struggle changing the course of their culture and breaking down decades of malnourishment. In this piece, we aim to provide a few tactical recommendations on resurrecting your company’s culture in three, simple steps. 


Step 1: Start with values

Too many companies go years without a deliberate conversation about culture. Instead, many end up addressing broken cultures when the drumbeat of issues becomes unbearable. Values are the heart of every culture. Organizations without well-defined values never thrive because everything from hiring to managing to decision-making revolve around them.

Culture is the aggregate embodiment of values by a group of people.

Furthermore, culture must be nurtured at all levels. Igniting the conversation about culture can be as structured or as unstructured as needed. For example, on-going culture conversations could come in the form of weekly meetings, where representative subsets of employees convene in frank, judgement-free feedback sessions. Culture conversations can also be facilitated through sophisticated and recurrent surveys that poll employees and benchmark results against peers. The most sophisticated businesses leverage real-time data to measure culture and evaluate its impact on KPIs such as engagement, productivity, retention, and brand affinity.

While teams naturally convene around a set of core values, not everyone will implement those values the same way. For example, an organization might embody the core value of Generosity through charitable giving while another organization volunteers.

Strong teams find that their values are highly homogenous. This makes finding a guiding theme much easier from which to articulate and build.


Step 2: Experiment toward resonance

Once organizations successfully identify their core values, management should calibrate their implementation, as embodied in their culture, through team input.

Oftentimes, teams get discouraged with culture calibration efforts because their first or second attempts at rallying the troops may not succeed as they hoped. This is common and is why teams must underscore the iterative, marathon-like nature of compelling culture management initiatives.

Furthermore, what might work now, may not work later because the composition and size of teams evolve, and correspondingly, their needs, wants, and desires do too. Teams may choose Agile Methodologies to Design, Develop, Test, Evaluate, Meet, and Plan small and large-scale cultural initiatives. If A-B testing is more your thing, pick a few focus areas for your corporate culture, see how different teams engage with and respond to these focus areas, and iterate until you reveal compelling initiatives for the team at large. 


Step 3: Keep a pulse and calibrate 

Even organizations that manage to do Steps 1 and 2 effectively often make the biggest mistake of all: failing to measure their results. As the old saying goes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

Having a quantitative measure of corporate culture is essential as you make efforts to bolster company culture. There are many ways to accomplish this. For smaller companies, it could be as simple as having a monthly Survey Monkey sent out to observe month-to-month changes in employee engagement. For larger organizations, however, this can be easily accomplished by engaging partners such as Gallup or Predictive Index, which periodically collect metrics, such as eNPS (employee-net-promoter-score), and organize the feedback into an easily digestible dashboard that can be used to facilitate culture evaluation-oriented discussions. 


With this foundation, you will be surprised how quickly workplace culture improves. Indeed, articulating your core values, experimenting with cultural strategies that honor those values, and measuring results are all critical to the success of your company’s culture initiatives. This three steps process forms the foundation of our culture transformation and measurement projects, whether we are working with small businesses or Fortune 500 companies.

If you’re  interested in learning more about Encast Culture Cloud™ or would like to engage Encast Labs in culture turnaround work, please visit http://encast.gives or contact us at info@encast.gives.

Encast News, CSR, social enterprise

Author: Leo Ramirez

Leo is the co-founder and CEO of Encast, an organization dedicated to improving the way CSR professions create, manage, and measure CSR programs. Leo is passionate about the role that culture plays in business success. Leo has launched and managed social ventures, lead multi-disciplinary teams, and built solid relationships with civic and corporate leaders. His 25-year career has spanned executive management, business development, consulting, nonprofit management, technical support and engineering positions with Southwest Key Programs, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Coremetrics, Trilogy and Apple.

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