One of the biggest mistakes that companies make when they are trying to form their culture is to not truly honor the existing essence of the culture (their core values). Robert Glazer, the bestselling author of Elevate, talked to Meghan Lynch, CEO of Six-Point Creative, and Ruth Lund, President of the Legacy Center, about how team culture can’t be forced.
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“Core values for an organization cannot be aspirational. They need to be who your best people are. You can’t say this is who we want to be as people. It just doesn’t work,” explained Glazer.
The best cultures show their behaviors instead of just talking about them. The experience with the company and its people should demonstrate the company’s core values in a way that they can be felt and noticed by anyone who has an interaction with that company.
Robert compares it to his own experience with his children. “One of my favorite moments as a parent was when I was at a parent-teacher conference for one of my kids. We have five family core values, and she had put four of them to describe him on the form. And so it just felt so great,” said Glazer.
Getting a strong culture is really as simple about rewarding the right behaviors. And you either do that intentionally, or it will start to happen by default. As companies grow and scale, you need to be carefully deciding what behaviors you will praise, because those behaviors will start to become outward signs of what your company’s core values.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of praising behaviors that might achieve short-term results, but don’t actually reinforce the long-term behaviors that you want to see in your organization. When this happens, you can quickly develop an unhealthy culture. You can start to turn it around by returning to your core values and determining what behaviors would demonstrate these values. Then put in intentional systems to reward these behaviors.