How to Clearly Communicate Your Organizational Culture

How to Clearly Communicate Your Organizational Culture
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The Importance of Being Able to Communicate Your Organizational Culture
Your organizational culture exists by design or by default and tells employees how to think, behave, and work. It matters to the people AND to the business. We have assessed organizational culture for decades, and our organizational alignment research found that organizational cultural accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement. Can your leaders and employees clearly communicate your organizational culture?

What The Research Says
While 83% of companies believe that what leaders say has a big impact on the importance of workforce culture, Gartner’s culture benchmarking survey found that what leaders communicate only has a 1% impact on being able to successfully align a workforce and culture. The greatest impact? How leaders operationalize cultural norms into processes, budgets, policies, and organizational structures.

The Key Steps to Better Communicate Your Corporate Culture
While corporate values are often prominently promoted on company websites, leadership development programs, and employee handbooks, they are just words. And your company values are only one component of what it is like to truly work at a company.

The key, say communication skills training experts, is not so much to send out fancy brochures that tout your values or culture but to let daily actions, business practices, and communications reveal what you and your company expect, reward, hold people accountable to, and stand for — especially when the stakes are high. In other words, it is not so much a question of telling people about your culture but designing how you do business and make decisions every day.

Here are three key tips:

  1. Define Your Desired Corporate Culture and Why It Matters
    Leaders are typically surprised to learn how unclear, misaligned, and fragmented their actual corporate culture is compared to their espoused culture. Truly living your desired culture and keeping your behavioral norms aligned with your strategy requires clarity, commitment, and vigilance. 

    Be clear about the key results and behaviors you expect. Then hold all employees  accountable for measuring up to them. Employees should clearly understand how you define cultural expectations, how they can live them, why they matter for your unique business strategy, and what happens when people go against the cultural norms.

    Whenever you have a chance, talk to your employees about what culture looks like, why it matters, and how to live it. Make sure that every internal and external communication aligns with your cultural expectations.

    Can everyone articulate your desired culture? Do employees know what you truly expect from them?
  2. Lead by Example
    The executive leadership team typically sets the cultural tone for the rest of the organization. When respected formal and informal leaders model and value the desired culture, their behaviors and attitudes cascade throughout the workforce. If you want to communicate your organizational culture, make sure your leaders and influencers set a personal example of what they expect from others in terms of how they perform and how they behave.

    In terms of communicating cultural importance, “what leaders do” has a 5 times greater impact than “what leaders say.”

    Do you leaders keep demonstrating what it looks like to successfully live your cultural norms?
  3. Weave Your Culture Into How Work Gets Done
    Ideally, each cultural attribute is deeply integrated into every communication and business process. From interviewing for cultural fit, to onboarding, performance management, promotions, succession planning, teaming, sharing information, and decision making your cultural expectations should be aligned with your people AND business priorities.

    Stand alone communications do not change behave. You need cultural accountability and alignment. In terms of communicating cultural importance, how work gets done has a 18 times greater impact than “what leaders say” and a 3 times greater impact than “how leaders behave.”

    Does the way work gets done fully align with your desired workplace culture?

The Bottom Line
Most organizations rely heavily on leadership to model and communicate their desired culture. While this makes sense, to clearly communicate your desired culture leaders must do more than communicate. Leaders must ensure that the key cultural attributes become operationalized into the way work gets done on a daily basis.

To learn more about how to clearly communicate your organizational culture, download The 3 Research-Backed Levels of Culture that You Must Get Right to Create Higher Performance

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