3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Building an Intentional Culture

Have you ever heard an employee utter the words, “That’s not my job?” Or maybe you’ve secretly wished the ground would open up and swallow you when you heard how an employee spoke to a customer. Have you ever been on the receiving end of, “That’s not how we do things around here?”

What do all these things have in common? Culture.

Culture Leads to Behaviors
Your culture ultimately shapes your employees’ behaviors. Culture tells people how to act. One place might have a “work hard, play hard” type of culture, while another might have a “culture of criticism”.

But regardless of what kind of culture an organization has, good or bad, realize that culture is being reinforced in many different ways and some might be unintentional.

For example, “I’ve heard a supervisor say, ‘What? You have time to spend just chatting with a resident?” I’ve heard numerous managers say, “Don’t complain, you’re lucky you work here; it’s better than most places.”

The hidden messages: Don’t take time for the residents despite what our mission statement says and don’t speak up to your supervisor.

Be Intentional
One of our fabulous clients, Whitney Center, in Connecticut engaged Drive’s services, not because they were dealing with a negative culture, but because they wanted to be more intentional about their positive one!

Whitney’s CEO Mike Rambarose, asked some important questions that you should be asking yourself:
1. “How do we make our culture more intentional?”
2. “How do we not leave our culture to chance?”
3. “How can we make all of the positives that happen here the norm for new and seasoned employees alike?”

Whitney Center realized that by being intentional about culture two things would happen:
1. Employees would know how they should respond in any situation, and
2. Employees would feel confident that their response was an appropriate one that would be supported by their supervisor.

Putting Intentions into Action
Whitney took a hard look at their values. For example, one of their values was community, which they define as “Speak and act to positively impact relationships.” With that statement the organization stresses that they believe that each person is an important part of their community.

To make this actionable, Whitney took the normal organization values a step further: they defined how people must act to create that belief. They asked, “What can be done to make each person feel an important part of the community?”

Honor different perspectives was one answer.

That may be the manager or leader speaking last in a meeting, as not to influence other’s input. It might mean that before any decisions are made, that the person making the decision asks: “Did I ask the people that are going to be impacted by this decision their ideas and thoughts?”

How to be Intentional with Your Organizational Values
Seriously consider your organizational values by asking yourself:
1. Are they just a framed document hanging on the lobby wall, or are they actually being lived by you and everyone in your organization?
2. Are your values actionable?
3. Can team members in every position clearly understand how their job can support those values?

If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, sit down and review your values one by one and then commit to creating an organizational culture that is intentional, not one thrown together by chance!

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