How do you drive a culture?

Any discussion of culture is often fraught with confusing, nebulous terms that make it difficult to truly get a handle on what we’re really talking about. At HPC, we often say that world-class organizations are incredibly intentional and systematic about how they author, create, and drive the culture they want to have. But what does it really mean to drive a culture through an organization?

Here’s the simplest, most straightforward way we know to explain what that means: Each of us, as leaders in our organizations, undoubtedly have thoughts about how we wish our people were. We have times when we think to ourselves, “If I could only somehow get my people to more consistently do X, we’d be dominating our marketplace” and other times when we think, “It drives me crazy when I see them doing Y.”

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Well, driving a culture is nothing more sophisticated or complicated than finding a way to get those thoughts out of your head and into their bodies so they start to more frequently be the way you want them to be. How great would it be if we could somehow pull that off?

Here’s the good news: To do it is pretty simple. (It’s not easy, but it is simple.) If you want your people be the way you’re picturing, you have to do two things:

1. Tell them, with great clarity, exactly how you want them to be.

2. Teach it to them, in a systematic, structured way, over and over and over again.

As obvious as that might seem, most companies do neither of those steps. Instead of being really clear about what you want to see, you issue vague statements about values or you simply get frustrated and angry that your people aren’t doing what you as a leader want or expect.

And rather than teaching what  you want over and over again,  you hold a big company meeting to talk about your values or  you have a sit-down with an employee to issue a reprimand and somehow think this will be enough to change behavior. Sound familiar?

Getting clear about what you want to see is all about articulating behaviors. And teaching them over and over again is all about creating appropriate rituals.

As we noted above, driving a high-performing culture through your organization is really quite simple, but it’s not easy. Give us a call if you’d like to learn more about the practical, straightforward way we use to help companies just like yours get it done.

Next topic: The 8-Step Framework


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