Your culture sounds nice
When I ask people, “tell me about your culture,” I usually get a splattering of answers related to perks, good feelings, dress codes, office design, and, my favorite, “we have wine and beer on Fridays”. Sweet! While those things certainly influence and reinforce culture, they are not really the elements of culture that drive business results.
The cultural elements I’m interested in learning are:
- What are the valued and emphasized behaviors, actions, and tendencies internally?
- What behaviors are rewarded and/or tolerated?
- Do these behaviors support the work that this group of people need to get done right now and reflect the brand we are trying to embrace?
Good, but wrong culture
It is possible to have good culture that is wrong for your business and your brand.
For example, you could have a very well organized, efficient team who collectively love process and precision. Suppose something like a pandemic happens, and suddenly that team needs to throw out the playbook they know and pivot quickly and lean into innovation, agility, and the unknown. If we aren’t careful and intentional, we could keep the cultural elements that worked for us yesterday that will drive our business into the ground tomorrow.
Or, perhaps you are positioning your organization as a healthcare entity who’s brand is centered around an amazing human-centric patient experience, not like a traditional doctor’s office. If you hire all people who are task masters, your patients will likely feel that misalignment.
Companies who are intentional about their brand, strategy, and talent are most successful at focusing and achieving their unique desired results.
How can you tell if your brand and internal culture are not aligned?
-Gaps between customer experience and brand aspirations
-Differences between customer feedback and internal employee experiences
-A lack of understanding of brand and customer experience among employees
So, how do we align brand and culture?
- Identify specific brand aspirations and why
- Make sure those brand aspirations resonate with customer needs and market distinction to drive business
- Create business strategy initiatives that reinforce the brand
- Identify internal company values and organizational cultures that drive those results, and reward those
- Understand the natural behavioral tendencies of your leadership and teams
- Be intentional about bridging gaps between who we are and the work to be done
- Diagnose employee experience frequently to make sure it is resonating and aligning with your brand