Make your culture magnetic
Culture matters. Which means what, exactly? Culture is essentially “the way we do things around here”. It has a massive impact on your brand, business, employees, customers and everyone you interact with day-to-day. Take a closer look at your leadership styles, the shared mindset of your various teams, the practices and behaviours held to be most common across the whole organisation, can you see themes developing?
You may not be able to put your finger on it, or to articulate or measure it, but you can definitely tell if it’s working or not.
At the core of this culture sits your ethos and identity – the shared vision, purpose and principles that make you who you are as a business and bind you together. This should all translate into tangible practices, such as your position on diversity and inclusion or employee wellbeing and engagement. It’s also reflected in the way you work with clients and customers, the services you deliver or the products you make. Most of all, your culture really ought to be an intrinsic expression of your brand. So, what happens if the culture you envision is not the culture that you currently have, how do you marry the two?
Measure magnetism from the inside out
Culture, and its authentic expression, relies on the alignment and sustained engagement of everyone from senior leadership to frontline teams. Identifying the gaps between your vision and the people expected to deliver it, believe it or not, requires talking to them. They’ll tell you if it’s working or not.
And if employees broadly say the same thing, if they do or don’t feel aligned with the purpose and culture at the heart of your business, it raises the question as to how attractive it really is. Staff turnover is indicative of culture and how appealing it is to both prospective and existing talent. So, consider this the first step, assessing the degree of alignment between your stated values and strategy, and the real values and motivations of your people. Next, take a closer look at how your culture is perceived from the outside in.
Set your brand apart, culturally speaking
From a customer’s point of your view, your culture is understood through your brand, specifically the way your people live and breathe it every day. If you do what you say you’re going to do both internally and externally, your people become more motivated to deliver on your promises and your brand becomes more interesting to customers. Let’s take Google as an example. When the tech giant made its initial public offering in 2004, it encouraged employees to spend 20 per cent of their time working on the ‘side projects’ they thought would ‘most benefit Google’. The initiative led to the creation of Gmail and AdSense. Other tech companies have since followed, including LinkedIn, forging cultures that are hallmark expressions of their innovation.
So, how could you make the same kind of impact with your brand culture? By creating a feedback loop within your business that enables its growth, innovation and evolution. We can initiate the process by sitting down with your senior leadership team to establish your overarching brand vision. Then we’ll get to work understanding how this translates throughout the many layers of your business on a daily basis. Our findings will inform new ideas at senior leadership level that can be taken out to your people once again for testing and feedback. This process is ongoing as you build on ideas, shaping and re-shaping your brand vision together. It’s a truly collaborative and creative process.
Culture comes through genuine co-creation
When we say that co-creation is an underlying principle of this work, we mean genuine co-creation. It’s vital to involve employees at every level of your organisation if you want to hone a culture that makes sense to all involved. The aim is to stimulate conversation, enthusiasm, engagement and commitment, which, when combined with strong insight gathered internally and externally, creates a solid foundation to build on. Let’s look at our work with Rosewood to see how enriching a brand’s culture really does supercharge business growth.
Rosewood’s leadership team told us that attracting and retaining talent is their top priority, so we tested this against the word of bartenders, chefs and hosts responsible for maintaining the luxury brand’s reputation. What we discovered didn’t disappoint. We tapped into a shared passion for maintaining excellence through the unique expression of each individual’s expertise. We even filmed them talking about Rosewood’s vision and values, and what these meant to them personally. It was a perfect, positive feedback loop.
Creativity is the secret ingredient
Reports and data gleaned from employee surveys are only one part of the bigger picture. It’s what you do with this data that counts, and we’re not just talking practical application. Creativity needs to rank alongside strategy when it comes to magnetising your culture. If you can inject some serious imagination into the process and stay open to the ideas of all your people, it will become a rich experience for all involved.
Ultimately, it’s your vision and your conversations that inspire the creation of a culture that you own through and through. It’s this sense of ownership that makes it real, which is certainly what we found at Rosewood. As everyone was on side, the insight we’d gained could be used to inform practical day-to-day actions, such as new communications channels, employee recognition schemes and culture-building initiatives.
Culture consultancy methodology exists to be flexed and tuned to your needs. This is no off-the-shelf proposition. We’re here to facilitate your freedom to explore, expand and evolve. Whether you’re a startup or a global organisation, you want to create a fresh brand or power up your people for expansion, getting a read on your culture is where it all begins.