28% of CCOs are at the Professional stage of culture.*
* 2019 Page Global Survey
“For us, it’s simple. Culture is defined by behaviors. Our CEO doesn’t believe in ‘culture management.’ She believes in behaviors.”
Tony Cervone, CCO, General Motors
What You Do
Define culture in terms of desired behaviors and practices as articulated by leadership, by internal research and discussion, and/or through crowdsourcing. In all cases, behaviors should be logical applications of the company’s purpose, mission and values, and they should be specifically designed to enable fulfillment of the business strategy.
A business model that promises integrated solutions for customers would likely place a premium on the behaviors of collaboration and teaming.
A company whose mission is grounded in innovation would likely prize the behaviors of breakthrough thinking and risk-taking.
Develop and execute internal campaigns to build awareness of and support for the stated culture objectives.
Create branded written and visual assets. These can run the gamut from emails, newsletters and posters to intranet content, videos and advertising. Often, distinctive symbols and graphics are created to aid memory and recall.
Example: IBM’s iconic “THINK” has expressed the company’s ethos for more than 100 years.
Integrate storytelling. Identify and communicate stories about employees, teams and customer situations that illustrate the company’s desired culture and bring it to life.
Example: Southwest Airlines reinforces customer-centric behaviors with the story of a little girl who left her stuffed teddy bear on one of their planes and the efforts to which employees in two cities went to reunite them.
Deploy executives and management. From company-wide communications and town hall meetings to one-on-one conversations, recruit and assist leadership in articulating and reinforcing the desired culture.
Hone in on specific language, phrases and vocabulary. Many companies, particularly in consumer services such as hospitality, airlines and retail, describe desired behaviors in distinctive phrases that employees use in their everyday work; over time, they become part of the company vernacular.
Develop rewards and recognition programs in collaboration with HR, sales and others to celebrate individuals and teams who exemplify the desired cultural behaviors.
Southwest Airlines’ values include “Fun-LUVing Attitude” and “Wow Our Customers.”
To encourage associates to build on one another’s ideas, Nordstrom practices “Yes, and…” in meetings.
How long does it take to turn behavior into habit? As part of its company culture transformation, Krista Todd, CCO of Logitech, reports that nearly 100% of its workforce was engaged in 50 full-day sessions.
What You Need
Graphic and visual design
Editorial content creation and management
What You Measure
Employee awareness, understanding and support of the company’s culture objectives