This article first appeared on HR Management.
We previously focused on How would employees describe your culture? That is, culture and the role leadership has in shaping it.
Now, let’s talk about implementing culture. How do you gain the insights to identify talents and behaviors to deliver a healthy culture that leads to the delivery of productive business strategies?
Well like most things, it begins with the people. If leadership has little or no insight and understanding into the workplace characteristics and differentiators of their employees, no attempt to introduce a healthy culture will succeed. As over-used as the phrase its all about the people, may be these days, there is no denying that building a culture based on understanding the unique talents and behaviors of individuals should be at the top of corporate agendas.
A company’s culture is its personality; it’s the bringing together of the uniqueness of the individuals into a group of like-minded individuals whose mantra is, our behavior determines how things are done around here.
But the degree to which the culture is good or bad is determined not by complex formal cultural-change programs, but by understanding and respecting the differences in every interaction of individuals, their behaviors, their motivations, their talents, and their decision-making styles. That is, applying validated insights into their core personality.
When leadership invests in knowing their people, culture (of the good kind) begins. It doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen.
So how to do this? Use a scientifically validated data-gathering tool to understand individuals. Choose one that goes below the surface and reveals behaviors and talents not currently used. The right tool is one that cannot be manipulated; even those taking the discovery test will reveal innate characteristics even they may not know they have.
Empower champions to challenge anything working against a poor or toxic culture. From email wars to breakroom gossiping, challenge anything that doesn’t fit within the culture you want to eventually see.
As more and more is revealed through completing such a discovery process, leadership should regularly take the pulse of their organization to understand what is shaping their employees experience of working for the organization. Do they see changes? What more can be done to stamp out poor behavior, redirecting that energy into productivity? Are they remunerated and rewarded on a basis that motivates them? It is not all about money.
A key win that comes out of this exercise is the amount of personal insight leaders gain from the conversations taking place.
This approach to introducing a cultural shift not only reveals the range of talent, it also reveals what is not being used. It highlights individuals not a fit for their role. But with behavioral insight and tweaking, they can become fit for role and achieve an accelerated performance. Or be deployed in a better-suited role.
Without this people insight, leaders can’t know the personality and character of their people and, thus, of their business. That’s why so many culture programs fail. You can’t just determine the culture you want and force it, not knowing who the players implementing it are.
Employees want to have a good – no great – experience at work. This is especially true of millennials, who are a rapidly increasing part of the workforce. They want to be seen, they want to be valued, and they want to know they contribute in a meaningful way to the business.
But if leadership does not know them in terms of their life goals and individual talents, the workplace is always going to be chaotic, functioning below par and as a hot bed for toxic culture.
Every leader has a responsibility to accelerate their people’s performance through a deeper, more meaningful understanding of their employees’ characteristics, talents, and inherent behaviors.
So, dive deep and learn what makes your people “tick”. You’ll then be able to understand and influence not just how your company is ticking, but how you want it to do so differently.