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5 Ways to Achieve an Intentional Culture, by Design not by Default

Posted by Ross Duff

It’s a simple fact: The surest way to create a consistently remarkable customer experience is to create a consistently remarkable employee experience. And one of the most fundamental variables driving a remarkable employee experience is workplace culture.

Workplace or business culture is often referenced, although many times it’s mistreated and used as a buzzword. To clear the air, culture can be defined by a group’s collective beliefs, values, and attitudes. Culture is, in effect, a network of social contracts that govern what is acceptable and not acceptable within a group. Cultures can adapt, change, and evolve; they are mobile. Cultures always exist, even if they were never defined or nurtured, consciously.

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Many organizations do not recognize the criticality of a workplace’s culture and the fundamental influence it has on delivering inspired performance. A positive workplace culture creates a positive current within the business; carrying a portion of business effort. The same can also be true of a negative culture; it is much more difficult to deliver minimum acceptable performance. A negative culture creates performance resistance.

Now that we have that out of the way, ask yourself the critical question: Do I influence the business culture in a positive way? Did you have to really think about it? Did you have to consider or try to recall interactions throughout the day, today or this week? If so, you may not have been intentional in your interactions. In other words, you may not have influenced the culture in a positive way.

Today’s buyer is empowered and actively participating in an ongoing dialogue that is crucial to your reputation. But smart companies haven’t lost sight of the fact that a sharpened consumer focus is only successful with empowerment and engagement of your own employees, in a purpose-driven environment. An intentional workplace culture is focused on how your employees work every day. Your company can’t deliver a great customer experience without it.

Every company has a culture—whether you define it or not. An intentionally defined culture should be cultivated, proactively practiced, and initiated by leadership. Create an intentional culture by ensuring that these 5 tactics are part of the fabric of your everyday business:

  1. Avoid workplace tournaments – where there’s drama, soap opera, politics. This is an unhealthy but all too common competition in the workplace where there are two ways to win: by being the best and winning or by ensuring no one else wins. Create a positive culture by ensuring an authentic and candid environment that builds trust among team members. In this setting, employees are able to speak honestly rather than playing behind the door politics.
  2. Recognize performance excellence during weekly and monthly meetings. HR should be highly engaged in performance benchmarks. A BPM, for example, pays close attention to AHT metrics, as they affect training and proficiency curves. To deliver optimal customer care solutions, these client partners protect these standards and avoid cancelling or lowering them.
  3. Ensure that your action plans are effective by being specific. Mutual responsibility often equates to no accountability. An ineffective Action Plan would hold Operations accountable, with no named team member and no end date. Name the accountable parties in your business. Tasks can’t be mutual or by department, they must be assigned to an individual. Autonomy and responsibility has to be identified at the individual level.
  4. Gauge employee engagement by administering employee surveys or gathering information during face-to-face conversations. You can also measure progress as part of performance reviews. In essence, consistently give and receive employee feedback.
  5. Reward positive behavior that contributes to your intentional culture. When your employees are truly making a difference –showing up and contributing ideas and insights for improvement, be sure to honor these efforts. This positive and open communication will go a long way toward creating the intentional culture that will differentiate your business.

It is critical to recognize the value of defining your culture. Creating an intentional culture means investing in the emotional bank account of all employees. If you create a positive current and momentum, with appreciation for fairness and equity, you’ll be amazed how it pays forward and translates into inspired results. You put significant effort into your customer experience, your product, and, ultimately, your performance. Design of your workplace culture—the foundation of your business--deserves that same attention.

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