Guides / Creating a Culture Comfortable with Change

Creating a Culture Comfortable with Change

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Creating a place of happiness at work is vital. Why? Because achieving happiness is a fundamental human truth that exists in all of us and, “Because all human beings want to be happy, and no one wants to suffer. Our desire for happiness is something we all have in common.” These are words from the Dalai Lama in a recent Harvard Business review article providing leadership during these unprecedented times.

Putting happiness at the center of our focus helps us in 3 ways:

1. It gives us something larger to achieve rather than simply staying afloat as a business.

“Data about working for something larger.” It gives us a purpose to align with that is selfless and self-full at the same time. Balancing what you want with what others want requires attention to details, being clear, and setting two-way paths for communication.

2. It provides a common thread to all the tactics we implement.

Creating a strategy in place to align all your tactics takes time. My favorite quote as a strategist is from Sun Tzu: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

3. It moves us from reactive to proactive, even in times of uncertainty.

It holds our problem-solving abilities to a new level, a much longer, more sustainable approach. Understanding the very basic needs of the team and customers gives us a roadmap that allows for long-term solutions.

Let's start with why this is so hard.

You are tired, have limited time, and brainstorming new ways to succeed is draining and time consuming.

You are leading with the resources you have from a pre-COVID time that may longer have relevance or feel right.

COVID has increased anxiety so much that all things unstable are being amplified and can have devastating impact on people and a company’s ability to persevere and stay focused. 

Uncertainty and safety concerns cause an upheaval in the process.

Being aware of this helps us keep an open mind. But where do we start?

5 Guiding Principles

1. Start with why you started.

What do you stand for? Stand for something. (Give employees something to believe in and take pride in!) Extend your passion to those around you and they will embrace it if they are the right fit. If not, you both will understand the misalignment pretty quickly. You must clearly communicate your values.

2. Establish consistency and transparency.

Being relatable starts with sharing. Even your faults are helpful to broadcast sometimes in order to help with relatable communications. It may feel like over communication but follow through will have a deeper impact.

3. Be patient and openminded.

Create a new way of communicating that allows for more time and more empathy. Inquireabout the challenges you don’t understand–proactivity is key.

4. Be creative and flexible.

Create a culture comfortable with change. You will most likely have shifting expectations from your team. Establish an optimization strategy, listen and evolve based on needs.

5. Recognize and reward often.

This shows that you value the people around you.

Below are some examples of how to put this into practice.

Hiring New Staff

Looking for the right people who represent who you are as a company means being clear from the beginning about what you stand for. Remember that those looking for a job most likely have their own set of values, needs, and wants as they set out to find what is best for them. Applying best practices and ways of handling hiring through the lens of our 5 guiding principles will give us a head start in the hiring marketplace.

Create a campaign platform to communicate what your values are when you are looking for candidates.

Start with clear talking points, rooted in your values, that are repeatable and can live in all aspects of communication including but not limited to emails, social media, your website and other print materials. Keep the story close to your values and consistent.

Take time for yourself in the interview process, set at least 15 minutes pre and post interview to give yourself time to write out your values and start scoring the candidate before they walk in the door (based on the resume). Score during and after the interview based on values. Keep notes as you talk on your values score sheet.

Establish constancy and transparency through key talking points as well as examples.

Start with clear talking points, rooted in your values, that are repeatable and can live in all aspects of communication including but not limited to emails, social media, your website and other print materials. Keep the story close to your values and consistent. 

Give examples of how these values come to live in practice.Have current employees speak on your behalf, through videos, or verbatims or showcase key values through actionable practices, and/or awards.

Be patient and openminded.

Learn about what people need in the current climate and talk to other business owners about what they find is working or not working. Read about new interview questions to ask in order to pull culture into the spotlight. Don’t automatically follow what has been done in the past.

Be creative and flexible.

You will most likely have shifting expectations from your team. Establish an optimization strategy, listen and evolve based on needs. 

Challenge yourself to create a more interactive interview by allowing for an activity or fun quiz that allows for avenues of conversations on their terms. Find new areas to interview at rather than sitting at a desk. Give a tour of the space. Encourage interaction from others during the process.

Recognize and reward often.

Always find one strength from the person you interviewed and write it down so that you can mention this in the follow up e-mail regardless if they are the right person or not. Follow up within a day with a thank you, defined timing and next steps. Reward current employees for finding good candidates that share your values.

Training Your Staff

Move from a moment in time to a continuous process that includes safety. The teams that have that are the most successful. Train together and often. Don’t assume anything is the same. The mingling of veteran staff and new hires has been particularly interesting during the last few months. So, let’s talk about best practices and ways of handling this through the lens of our 5 guiding principles.

Start re-evaluating your training courses every month. Don’t make assumptions that anything is working, get feedback early and often.

Leverage all training as a way to reiterate your values.

Start the training by clearly talking through what you stand for and what the training is meant to do beyond the mechanics of procedures.

Create clear communication points of what you stand for and what you will not tolerate as a culture and explain why.

Give trainees other places they can go if they want to learn more about the culture on their own time. Different perspectives can be valuable.

Provide a way that people can provide input on the established culture and values. Give specific examples of what you are willing to do to ensure your points are understood.

Establish constancy and transparency.

Over communicate and follow through. Being relatable starts with sharing—even your faults are helpful to share sometimes in order to help with relatable communications.

Establish consistent training schedules for both new hires and current employees so that no one takes overtraining personally. Some people will adapt immediately, some may need a few rounds. But by creating an all-in mentality, no one gets singled out, and you allow for new lessons to be introduced as needed.

Be patient and open minded.

Create a new way of communicating that allows for more time and more empathy. Learn more about the challenges you don’t understand. Open mindedness is a superpower right now and it takes some effort.

Learn about what you may not understand right away. Listen and repeat back what you heard to confirm you are on the same page. Ask why, a lot! Take non-bias training or read about it.

Be creative and flexible.

Make it interactive, participation and attention are key. Think about adding different venues to train like videos, or other media to the training. 

Personalize the training. Introduce other people in the company to introduce themselves and how they will be interacting. Allow for some of your veterans to lead certain parts of the training. Teaching is the best way to learn more deeply. It also gives the training a refresh with different perspectives.

Invite 3rd party experts to the table and leverage the training as a way to collect information and feedback.

Recognize and reward often.

Create value recognition that celebrates those who reflect your values in their actions at work. Allow for peers to recognize others. Give away prizes for answering questions. Being alert, participating.

Create levels of training for a way to advance and have a long-term path.

Our Recommendation

Build your new principle-driven way of training from the beginning and train all teams and levels together. This will allow employers, on a monthly basis, to create a more team-like environment and it also is a great way to set expectations that things are changing rapidly. Training and communication are a priority to keep everyone on the same page working together.

Overall, these guiding principles can serve as a guideline to run your business informed and strengthened by today’s culture.

Remember that these are customizable to your own value sets and take time to think through how to personalize. Give yourself time to focus on these things. Once you have gone through the exercise of customizing your process based on your values, you will find the rest becomes much easier to think about and evaluate. The goal is to provide a roadmap that can help navigate an always changing atmosphere. Prioritize a listen and learn mentality for everyone’s sake right now, so be flexible and patient with yourself and your team as you evolve together.

This content is powered by Insight Forty Two

Melissa Schreiber is the founder of Insight Forty Two–a digital communications firm focused on building integrated, creative strategies that help to elevate brands. She has counseled hundreds of Businesses spanning the spectrum from local startups to some of the world’s most iconic brands and innovative leaders. 

If you have any questions for Melissa, she is always up for a virtual coffee. You can find her on LinkedIn or reach out directly via email at Melissa@insightfortytwo.com