If a picture is worth a thousand words, an experience is worth 1,000 pictures.
~ Bill Brooks
What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m always fascinated when I see or hear of companies attempting to build a company culture by adding ping pong or foosball tables. Don’t get me wrong, those can be tools to contribute to an element of company culture, but they don’t create a company culture. (Full disclosure – Alytis has a foosball table!)
Simply put, culture is what governs how a group of people choose to act. Culture can be defined as the values, beliefs, behaviors and common practices of the group. When trying to change or create a culture to one that generates great results, a common mistake is to focus on the actions or behaviors of the group. Great leaders understand that to truly change a culture, you need to influence choice by connecting to the beliefs of the individual. How do you connect to belief? You connect by providing a consistent experience.
So, if you’re following my logic here, the key to changing culture is to focus on the experience the individual has in the company. How do you do this?By providing consistent experiences of the executives and fellow employees living the core values, behaviors and common practices of the group. This will drive a belief of “how things are done around here” which then influences choice of what actions to take.
To help illustrate the point, here is what I refer to as the culture triangle:
Experience is the foundation of culture. Consistent experiences lead to belief that what is being said and done is real. When people start to believe, they then start to open their hearts and align their interests with yours. When this happens you have unleashed their full talents and abilities and are on the path to a culture of greatness.
They key to creating consistent experiences is to determine the core values that drive your business and be relentless at teaching and exemplifying them. Executive touch points are especially critical experience tests that the employees watch carefully to decide if they will believe you truly live the core values. A great example of this is Zappos. Check out their core values here and explore their website to see an example of the power of consistent experiences with teaching and exemplifying core values.
Executives cannot, must not, say one thing and do another. If this is happening, you can be 100% sure you are not really establishing a culture of greatness. Why? Because what the employees really believe is that your company cannot be trusted so they will hold back their hearts from you. You will get their hands to do the work and little bit of their minds, but not the full power and gifts that come from their hearts.
Choose to establish a culture of greatness. Choose to create consistent experiences according to your core values. As you do this, you will lead your company to success.