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Moving corporate culture off the page and into hearts

Filed in Organizational Culture

Teresa Coles

As one who lives to help organizations align success and social good, Teresa has shaped purpose-driven brands at the firm for more than 20 years. She’s known for her ability to help clients artfully leverage organizational health, business strategy and brand marketing to their advantage. As co-founder of CreateAthon, she has led the program’s transition from a single-market event to a global service network that has delivered more than $24 million in pro bono marketing services to the nonprofit marketplace.

How many times have you seen it? The lovely printout of purpose, mission, vision and values statements that gets matted, framed and hung on the walls throughout an organization’s office. Or the same statements on the back of a business card. Or better yet, formatted as a screen saver that gets put on everyone’s computers. 

 Perhaps you’ve kicked it up a notch and have designed swell graphics that state your values. They look really sexy on the office walls and on the company website. What’s not to love? 

In homage to the Grinch: Perhaps culture means a little bit more. 

While crafting a compelling cultural platform is absolutely essential, what matters more is how it comes to life within the organization. Culture can’t be stated; it must be built. And it demands the appropriate amount of time, resources and shared energy to set in place a course of action that can move hearts and minds to live out a shared purpose and pursue a worthy goal. 

The process begins with identifying key strategic areas of your organization where culture plays a critical role, then developing practices in each of those areas that demonstrate your belief system. Here are some to consider:

  • Recruiting/Onboarding
  • Compensation/Benefits
  • Coaching/Mentoring 
  • Celebration/Rituals 
  • Internal Communications 
  • Community Engagement
  • Employee Development/Performance
  • Communications Style/Tone

There may be others in your organization, but these are a great place to start. A simple way to start unpacking these areas — with the goal of establishing real action items — is to answer four questions in each area: 

1.   What is the approach you hope to take to maximize
cultural impact?

2.     What are you already doing that works, and how can you
amplify that?

3.     What are you doing that needs some work, and what can
you do to make some tweaks along the way?

4.     What are you doing to indoctrinate your belief system?
What do you need to add? 

This process begins to build a Cultural Matrix that serves as a baseline cultural development plan. Many successful organizations create multidisciplinary teams associated with each key strategic area and empower those teams to build actionable initiatives that bring their desired culture to life. 

With the right leadership and commitment to implementation, the Cultural Matrix can be instrumental in paving the way toward an evolved, high-performing culture. It’s step one in demonstrating to your team that a healthy culture comes first, one that is more than just words. 

To learn more about building a Cultural Matrix as a tool for cultural implementation, visit www.responsiblebrand.com and download your free copy of the Responsible Brand Toolkit.

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