Culture change in any organization is a HUGE lift. A lift that requires unrelenting consistency from all levels. So as a leader, how do you get your whole team involved and bought in? Here are the top three ways to get your entire team working towards positive culture change.
(BTW – if you’re thinking, “What Actually Makes and Amazing Work Culture?” click here to get caught up.)
Start The Conversation
As the leader you should definitely start the conversation about culture change. You don’t need to lead every piece of this process but your team needs to know that you are 100% supportive of changing the work culture for the better.
Call a meeting together with everyone and share your interest in wanting to learn from them directly what they think of the current culture, how we can improve it moving forward, and how we can all take ownership in the process. Set the expectations for this conversation and make sure your team knows that this is a safe space to offer criticisms. Let the team know that this is a brainstorm space and we are not making any commitments just yet.
Use this time to facilitate an informal “focus group” with your teams to get your initial feedback. Ask simple questions, let your team take it from there, and take copious notes. Besides asking the simple questions, you shouldn’t do much more talking in this meeting. Here are some ideas of simple questions that will get you some great information:
- What do you love about working here?
- What is your least favorite part about working here?
- What was the best day or experience you’ve ever had at this company?
- What was something that you loved about working with another company that you wish we had here?
- How could you be better supported here?
- Besides salary, what are some things we could try to implement here that would help you to be more engaged?
Again, you ask the questions and then ZIP IT. Let this be time for your team to talk freely and openly – be comfortable in the awkward silences, trust me they’ll speak up. Don’t offer suggestions or examples because you will begin leading them and you’ll lose the opportunity to attain their creative, free thinking. You just take copious notes and ask for clarification or probe for people to go deeper when they start talking.
*If you have large enough teams, split them into groups to answer these questions together. Make each group nominate a notetaker, have one person in the group present back to the group after a few minutes and then collect the notes from the notetaker.
Before you end, make sure that you let everyone know that you’ll be sending out another way to gain their feedback through an anonymous online survey, just in case they didn’t feel comfortable sharing everything in the group setting.
Get a Baseline and Discuss Together
Now follow up immediately with that online survey. It’s super easy (and free) to create online surveys through Google Forms, just make sure that you customize your settings to ensure all can stay anonymous. Give folks a deadline of just a few days and remind them on the last day via email to complete the survey if they haven’t already.
Once you’ve closed the online survey and completed your group feedback session, take some time to synthesize the information. As you look at all of the responses and data – what common themes are jumping out at you? Put that into a one-pager or a PowerPoint presentation and get another team meeting set up on your calendars.
In this meeting you’ll be doing two things:
- Present back the synthesized information and highlight the themes that came up more than once
- Live survey your team utilizing my free download: The 12 Resounding Yes’s You Need to Retain Top Talent.
You can do these two things in whatever order you like, but make sure that you’re taking time to discuss everything. You can create the live poll through PollEverywhere.com, which is free and easy to use (again make sure the option is clicked for the survey to be anonymous).
This discussion should provide you and your entire team with a solid baseline of where your company culture is currently.
Develop a Team Action Plan
Now that you’ve gathered feedback and your team has come together to form a baseline, it’s time to move to action. Split your team into equal groups and task them with creating an action plan to improve the company culture. Depending on how many teams you have, each team should take 1-3 of the twelve questions you live-surveyed them on, and create a simple action plan to move more of the team to a resounding yes for that question.
Give each team at least a week or two for their group task and then spend the next few weeks having the teams present to one another until you’ve gone through action plans for each of the twelve questions. Make sure that each question’s action plan is presented, that feedback is gathered, and that commitments are made from all team members on how they will contribute to implementing the action plan before anyone leaves the room.
So, What Now?
Get out there and do it! You have the step-by-step guide and free tools to make this happen right now with your team(s). You need this to be a participatory process to ensure there is buy-in and commitment from across the company. Now as you go and implement, I’m going to ask you two things:
- Share your experiences and learning lessons with us in the comments below
- Make sure you are leading by example and implementing the commitments you made for the action plans! Your team will follow your lead.
Have fun and feel free to reach out with any questions as always!
PS – next week we’ll be diving in deeper on your responsibilities as a leader and manager to culture change!