The 8-Step Framework.

OK, you understand that your culture has a huge impact on your people’s performance and that it’s imperative you create it intentionally; but how do you do it? And how do you institutionalize your culture so that it becomes part of the very DNA of your organization?

Our 8-Step Framework is the easiest way to understand and implement a plan to make it happen. We’ve used this framework with tremendous success in a wide variety of industries from healthcare to IT to construction to manufacturing to distribution. It simply works.

Step 1: Define what you’re trying to create.

You can’t build a culture if you can’t define, with tremendous clarity, exactly what it is you’re trying to build. Here, the emphasis has to be on describing the “behaviors” that most lead to success. And we’re not talking about visions, missions, and values. The more clarity we bring to what we expect, the more easily we’ll be able to teach it, and the more likely our people will be able practice and internalize it.

Step 2: Create rituals to sustain the practice of the desired behaviors.

Discipline and motivation are rarely enough for us to sustain attention to our goals. Rituals are the key to sustainability. Only through rituals will we ever do the repetition that’s necessary to internalize the desired behaviors.

Step 3: Select people who are the right fit for your culture.

You can’t build a high performing culture without people who are a great fit for that culture. You must evaluate everyone from the perspective of their cultural fit as well as their skill set, and you must be steadfast and disciplined in your commitment to only bringing in good cultural fits.

Step 4: Integrate new hires into the culture.

How you bring new people into the fold has an enormous influence on your culture. In fact, it can be argued that the first week of a new employee’s time with your company is the most important week in her entire career. How and what she perceives at the beginning will last a lifetime. You have only one chance to create the right first impression. And yet most companies do such a poor job at integration that they severely undermine their chances for success.

Step 5: Make the culture visible throughout the work environment.

While putting signs on your walls obviously isn’t sufficient to make it your culture, the more people see visual reminders of your culture, the more likely it becomes part of their daily experience, their vocabulary, and their consciousness. We’re not likely to think about it if we never see it.

Step 6: Coach people to teach and reinforce the culture.

Cultures are not abstract or theoretical. Rather, they show up in the day-to-day behaviors of our people. When we use the specific language and vocabulary of our culture in the daily coaching and feedback we provide, we make the culture relevant and we reinforce the key principles we want people to internalize.

Step 7: Set the example from leadership.

As leaders, each of us is a teacher. Our people are looking at us all the time, consciously and unconsciously, and they’re learning by observation what really matters in our organizations. When we fully embrace our role as teachers, we learn to leverage every opportunity as a teaching moment to promulgate our culture more fully and more deeply.

Step 8: Create accountability for our culture.

Without accountability, our culture is little more than a wish. We need to show that we’re serious about our culture. This can be done in many different ways from surveys to performance reviews to hiring and firing decisions. All of it says, “We’re not kidding.”

Ask us about the tools and resources we’ve developed to help organizations like yours implement each of these steps.

Next topic: It’s all about the behaviors. 


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