40% of CCOs are at the Pathfinder stage of business culture.*
* 2019 Page Global Survey.
“Values define who we are. Practices are ways of doing things that express our values.”
Pete Nordstrom, Co-President, Nordstrom
What You Do
Train leaders to model behaviors.
Help leaders at all levels of the company understand and exhibit the desired behaviors and translate that understanding and action to their employees and teams. This may involve partnering with HR to create curricula for formal management development, workshops and other resources tailored for the leadership corps.
Example: GM’s Tony Cervone and his team, in “tight collaboration” with HR, created “We are GM” – an articulation of what the GM brand stands for and the seven GM behaviors needed to make it a reality.
Identify and measure gaps.
Establish a measurement system that assesses the distance between the aspirational culture and the reality of the employee experience. This is likely not the same as measurement of employee sentiment, climate or morale. This analysis would specifically examine what stands in the way of employees acting and behaving in the prescribed ways.
If the desired culture prizes customer centricity, e.g. “do the right thing for the customer,” “delight the customer,” then gap analyses may reveal impediments such as insufficient delegation of decision rights, fragmentation of customer sales and support, or incomplete customer data.
If the culture prizes innovation, then gap analyses may reveal that employees lack the equivalent of a “suggestion box,” insufficient time for blue-sky thinking, or lack of funding to incubate ideas.
Gap analyses should include audits of company rituals. Do the rituals teach, reinforce and celebrate the desired behaviors? Are they outdated? Do they need to be contemporized or retired? Are new rituals needed?
Many Industrial Era companies celebrate employee service anniversaries. Is longevity still a vital element of your company’s culture?
Some companies’ rituals celebrate the attainment of sales goals and customer wins. Is this the behavior to be reinforced? Or is it customer satisfaction, delight and advocacy? Does it need to go beyond customer satisfaction to customer success?
Address gaps and design experiences.
Desired behaviors can be enabled or inhibited by processes, systems and policies. These can touch a wide range of applications, from budgeting, approvals and delegation to IT systems and the design of work environments. Use your gap analyses results to establish a management system that addresses key gaps in these and other affected areas.
Remove roadblocks. While gap analyses will help identify roadblocks, actually addressing them will require collaboration with the relevant leaders of your company. Approaches can range from the formation of councils, teams and committees to co-championed efforts between you and another CXO, to grass-roots efforts and crowdsourced solutions.
Ensure the right rituals are practiced. These, too, should be designed.
Ritz Carlton holds a mandatory standing meeting that includes all staff and takes place at the beginning of each shift at every Ritz Carlton property, including headquarters.
UPS begins each shift everywhere in the world with a “PWC” – a three-minute Pre-Work Communications meeting.
Proctor & Gamble has a decades-long ritual of communicating ideas clearly and concisely in a ”One Page Memo.”
Amazon’s leaders begin meetings reading six-page memos in silence, in what founder and CEO Jeff Bezos calls “a kind of study hall.” This ensures that “everyone is on the same page, literally.”
“It’s different work to recruit and retain the best people and to get them to show up every day excited to be part of Bloomberg. Historically, our profession is more trained to drive a narrative than a culture.”
Jason Schechter, CCO, Bloomberg
Dell Technologies regularly conducts an internal survey called “Tell Dell,” which invites employees to share their experience working in the company. Gaps are systematically identified and corresponding action plans are developed and implemented by a cross-functional team, including communications, HR and sales.