Your people are the difference. Sometimes that sounds sing-songy because in many organizations it’s an inauthentic claim. In high performing cultures – it’s gospel. How your people behave and perform, day in and day out, is the only sustainable differentiation you have. That means you have to be intentional and systematic in defining the employee behaviors that drive, and are fundamental, to your continued success. In fact, this is one of the most important premises on which the entire Fundamentals System is built – and it’s Step #1.
Who should be included
As HPC Founder David Friedman writes in his book Culture by Design, while the responsibility for authoring your culture lies with the CEO, it’s strongly recommended that the “senior leadership team” (those who contribute the most to his/her thinking) be included. Typically, that’s 5-8 people, but the number can be higher when including some rising stars and those whose contributions and/or buy-in may prove valuable.
Ok, now that you’ve got the band together it’s time to brainstorm and determine the behaviors that drive your success. We suggest a 3-hour sit-down, and if possible, led by a facilitator to guide the process. First, we suggest setting aside any legacy materials (current vision, mission, core values). Think freely without being influenced by your previous work.
To kick off the brainstorming, here are several questions to get the conversation started:
- Think of the employee(s) who you wish you could clone. What are their behaviors that make them “clone-worthy”?
- What are the things that you see/hear that drive you crazy? You want to capture the opposite of those behaviors!
- What are the things that, if done more consistently, would make your company amazing?
Keep writing down behaviors for as long as your team has ideas. Don’t worry about how many you wrote down, just capture what’s important.
Type of behaviors
While it’s not necessary to group your Fundamentals into categories, thinking of behaviors in categories may help your team brainstorm better.
Here are some suggested categories:
- How we work with each other – These are Fundamentals that describe ways of working together more successfully. For example, “PRACTICE BLAMELESS PROBLEM SOLVING.”
- How we work with our clients/customers – These Fundamentals describe our customer-focused behaviors. For example, “BE A FANATIC ABOUT RESPONSE TIME.”
- How we do our own work – These Fundamentals describe our work habits and how we approach our work. For example, “MAKE QUALITY PERSONAL.”
- Our attitude – These Fundamentals are about the mindset we bring to the table. For example, “ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT.”
Now that your brainstorming is complete, it’s important to write a brief description for each Fundamental. The description should be 2-4 sentences that serve to explain a little more fully what you mean by that behavior. We’ll take a deeper dive on this in our next blog, 2 weeks from now. We’ll cover writing explanatory descriptions, being action-oriented, what to avoid, and what to do with previous core values.