In the past we’ve covered some basic definitions of company culture and ways of thinking about culture in a post-pandemic work environment. Here we’ll take a closer look at the vital role that leaders play in sustaining a healthy and impactful company culture.
For any set of cultural beliefs and behaviors to become an authentic part of your company’s daily work experience, you need “culture champions” at every level of the organization. There’s no question that your team of champions must include front line workers, but studies confirm that middle and line managers are also essential catalysts for culture adoption.
People mirror the cultural example set by their nearest team leaders
In addition to being the “public face” of your organization’s cultural beliefs, senior executives also need to equip middle and line managers to carry these values forward in specific operational ways. Going back to our autonomy example, you can’t expect adoption from front line workers if their team leaders are rigid micromanagers.
Let’s say you have a company value that says you prize autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit. The CEO and other senior executives can make an impact by communicating the business case for this value and actively promoting it around the company. Unless you have line managers that live this value in front of their teams in practical ways, it’s not going to stick.
Make culture a real part of ongoing leadership development
Leaders prioritize culture when they understand that it has a meaningful impact on the evaluation of their job performance. In today’s business world, it’s not enough to be the best in the company at the discipline you lead – you have to excel in the requisite people skills as well.
- Require leaders to create departmental ownership statements for each cultural value
- Train leaders to be skilled listeners who can apply empathy as well as discipline
- Insist that leaders “own the message” on culture and present it in “we” terms
- Be alert for corrosive “they” language that may creep into cultural discussions
- Encourage leaders to routinely make values part of 1:1 meetings and team standups
- Teach leaders how to effectively cascade communications content to their teams
- Ask for employee feedback frequently to measure cultural adoption and leader success
When we talk about culture with our partners, they’ve pointed out that employees will give leaders a significant amount of “grace” in these areas when they see them making good faith efforts to be consistent, trustworthy and transparent cultural role models.
Continuing the culture conversation
We look forward to discussing how culture can contribute to a healthy bottom line. Contact us today to learn about the programs, tools and resources we offer to help guide this process.