Company Culture – Questions I Really Want to Ask

Company Culture

We recently attended Counselor’s Academy,  a fantastic conference sponsored by PRSA which was jam-packed with valuable information for agency owners and leaders. It was an opportunity to connect with others who, like Chartwell Agency, are swimming the wild currents of change in sea of communications while also managing a business.

One of the most popular recurring topics at these events is around corporate culture. This year, we had an impressive group of panelists sharing their organizational perspective on culture. Just to be clear before I say anything else, there were some really great ideas and valuable information shared. However, while each of the panelists was answering questions about their employee recognition programs and teambuilding happy hours, I wondered if we were missing the opportunity to dig deeper and share ideas about how company culture really matters most.

So, here is my plea for changing the conversation around corporate culture with three topics I would love to hear a panel address.

How do you ensure each member of your team knows what matters MOST?

Chartwell Agency often helps organizations define core values, visions, mission statements –all designed to outline for employees, customers and partners WHO they really are. But unless you understand how those grand statements align to the daily grind of business, they may not impact culture. A strong organizational culture helps every member of your team know, without hesitation, the “right” thing to do in most circumstances. It’s an organizational compass, a figurative WWJD for your company, that helps team members prioritize, make decisions and represent your brand ideals. We all have some guidelines around relationship-building, results, and strategy, but would each member of your team rank them in the same way? If so, score one for your cultural clarity.

What are your organizational absolutes?

There are exceptions to every rule, but in an organization with a strong, aligned culture, members know the absolutes.  Whether you always follow up in writing after each client meeting, never leave an e-mail unanswered for more than 24 hours, or consistently update your calendar for the team to see, knowing the cardinal rules of the company creates an environment in which everyone is clear about what is expected and why. Bonus if those absolutes reinforce what matters most (see above).

How do you manage culture?

Culture isn’t static – it evolves and needs to be managed as thoughtfully as you manage your financials. When we consider culture in that light, how to we identify, collect, measure and analyze the data we need to move or maintain the needle? I mean, we would never ask the CFO if s/he “feels good” about the balance sheet without asking to review the numbers, would we?  If we can’t measure it, we can’t make the business case for it. If we can’t make the business case for it, we can’t dedicate resources to it. Defining the impact, finding ways to measure it, and actively managing culture prevents it from being soft.

So, if anyone wants to get together, I’d love to hear more on these topics related to culture. Who’s up for a panel discussion? (And I’ll always take best practices for employee recognition and teambuilding happy hours, too!)