How to support teams to build the desired culture
As we know that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” the same way we believe that “culture” can also do things which supports the strategy.
We do this support when we have a dialog about the culture we desire. Our culture ideally should be supportive the strategy so that we can move towards our vision and fulfill our mission.
This dialog is best done when we build new teams, or an existing team starts reflecting their values and desired values.
The good news is that almost everyone I am talking to gave me information about their value finding sessions and agreed on values. The values are written on walls or put on post-its and made visible on desks.
This activity is valuable and necessary. We believe in that having found the values will create a new culture.
Challenges in culture building
Even if everyone is aware of the desired culture and supporting values, almost every team and organization have problems to make it real.
There are three main challenges why teams or organizations fail to create a new culture:
- Lack of personal commitment to change: Most team members are not aware of what are the personal and professional benefits of transformation. Since this is not there the willingness and personal commitment to change stays at a level, which cannot have the expected impact.
- Missing courage and discipline to behave differently: New culture means new behavior. We cannot expect a different culture by acting the same way. Acting in a new way requires courage since we most probably have to leave our so-called comfort zone.
- Non-compliant cultural environment: If the overarching culture does not allow nurturing a new one then there will be almost no chance to build a new culture. In this case, we may talk about a non-compliant culture.
Culture is built when new values are in action
As the team has a task to accomplish and deliver a valuable outcome, the team should not forget to know that this is achieved when the desired culture is nurtured at the same time. In other words, the team handles the tasks or delivers results only because of it has lived and cultivated the new culture. The group acts with the awareness that the original power of our behaviors is in the new values.
Here is one way of doing it
To see the values in action, we should have regular dialogs about our behavior, actions and decisions and their link to values.
Here are the steps for a “dialog about our values in action” (2-3 hours session) (adapted from Get Connected from Barrett Values Centre)
- Inform your team about the purpose and objective of the dialog
- Prepare a Flipchart with the values of the team (in a circle or a triangle)
- Ask each team member writing down on post-its the most exciting 3 “wow” moments in day to day work
- Invite team members to present and talk about their “moments” of excitement and let them put the post-its in relevance to the value. The idea is to see the connection between the actions and values.
- Nurture the dialog, so that the team members get more and more aware of the link between value and behavior. Ask open questions. The process is the key here not the result.
- Have a short break
- Now ask each team member writing down on post-its the most upsetting three moments in day to day work
- Invite team members to present and talk about their “moments” of being upset and let them put the post-its in relevance to the value. Being upset is mostly related to an unmet need or not “respected” value. The idea is to see the connection between the actions and values.
- Nurture the dialog, so that the team members get more and more aware of the link between value and behavior. Ask open questions. What was missing? Which value was not respected? The process is the key here not the result.
- Invite the team to choose 3-5 from those “upsetting” moments and have a dialog about “wanted” and “unacceptable” behavior.
- Close the session with awareness on working on the new culture repeat this course as needed within 4-6 weeks.
This exercise increases team cohesion.
With commitment, discipline and awareness we can help teams to create the desired culture.
You may give it a try. Enjoy!