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How to Build a “Culture-Score-Improves-Every-Year” Iron-Clad System

by | Culture

I believe a great culture makes running an organization delightful.

In this episode, I’ll share with you a system we use with our clients, who, almost without exception, improve their culture scores every year compared to the year before—often for over a decade.

Maybe you think your culture is spot on—couldn’t be better, the accolades keep coming in, and you’re seeing it, as you are constantly on top of peers in growth and earnings, which is the outcome that hundreds of studies show happens with improved culture. If so, you’re going to love finding out how to sustain and advance further, because cultures are always vulnerable. You’re only one bad hire away from a pot-stirrer who can quickly make a real mess.

Alternatively, you may feel disheartened. Even though you’ve worked hard to improve the culture, you still feel like people aren’t creating outstanding performance and aren’t taking “ownership” to make every system, every product and every outcome better. Well, smile, and block off the next few minutes, because you can’t find a better use of that time than to make this problem go away for good.

If you are somewhere in the middle, with a good culture but still battling problems too often, you’re going to love some practical solutions you can use right away.

There are a few challenges to creating a sustainably advancing culture score and what it takes to make that happen.

First, you have more and more people coming into the workplace that have personal issues. These include people with brain chemical imbalances, people raised in families where anger is displayed in a destructive way and now normalized, and the youngest generation’s inability to focus or to work through conflict. This is a real and growing challenge—fewer people are coming into the workplace with the fundamentals to thrive.

Every business leader and owner is extremely concerned about these trends.

I’m now going to give you three steps that will help you build a system to advance your culture every year.

Step 1: In contrast to the old definitions that culture is driven by goals, training, and incentive pay, realize that nowhere on planet earth has there been a success story with that approach. It’s “conventional wisdom” that is shockingly believed to be true, to the demise of growth, profits, and sanity. Know that culture is rather a system of ways of being.

Step 2: So many organizations are “cultural experts,” yet create a “hair on fire with gasoline poured on your head” culture because they deal with accountability but don’t know how to tie it all together with strategy, marketing, sales processes, an ever-increasing improvement system, education systems, and accountability. You want to view culture as a holistic approach where you are building confidence.

Step 3: Culture is not about childish “throw candy bars during sales meetings” approaches. It is about celebration, but it requires celebration of the right behaviors and metrics, in the right order, and with the right interweaving of visibility and celebration systems. You usually want at least three to four at once, each for a different reason but all supporting one thing: constant improvement in both culture scores and results.

Three steps. First, forget the “follow the herd” beliefs that don’t work, and understand that culture is a system of ways of being and ever-increasing leading and lagging indicators done with the right visibility and with the right tools. Second, approach culture holistically or not at all. Success in business is about intentional congruence. Just try rolling out one of these without the others and see the results—a slight needle movement at best and no sustainability. And third, understand that cultures will still have highs and lows, and the goal is to have higher highs and higher lows. The system should be constantly improving so that bad economies, a strange occurrence in the workplace, or other disruptors don’t cause it all to stop. Challenging times are when the systems are imperative.

The beauty of a great and advancing culture is that hundreds of studies show it is the leading indicator of future growth and profitability. Your job should be easier, right?

Make sure you tune in next time, when I’ll show you how your customer service standards can be achieved and exceeded, making your customers say “wow” and become willing to pay you more.

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