Here we are on the precipice of resuming a somewhat “normal” way of life (if normal exists anymore).
Our world turned in early spring and sent our children home for weeks (or months). We were sent home with them to (attempt to) work and parent simultaneously. Our calendars were cleared in an instant. No meetings. No vacations. No shopping or eating out. No haircuts (gasp). Our lives are still unrecognizable. I am guilty of saying aloud more than once, “I just want to go back to normal now”.
The world continues to turn, and…there is no normal, yet. Returning to work and school eventually will be very different. Suddenly, companies are expected to know how to gauge someone’s temperature and overall well-being before allowing them to enter the workplace. What a foreign concept for this girl who grew up in the ADA world.
Within the walls of our organizations, there will be no large gatherings. Meetings in person will be limited to just a few people, and for as little time as possible. The attendees of those scarce meetings will probably be wearing face masks, and jugs of hand sanitizer will be visible everywhere. Screen time increasing is ok and unnecessary, in-person meetings will be taboo. The world certainly turned and took our cultures along for the ride.
It is up to us business leaders to determine the new normal. How do we strengthen our culture to ride this ugly wave out? Our businesses need a strong shock from the revenue recovery-defibrillator, and our cultures need more TLC than ever before while we endure the pain. Two very different goals that, if not married well with intensive proactive thought, could counteract each other.
3 ways to keep your organization’s culture in front of mind as we respond to the next turn of our world:
- Stay in Touch. Talk to your staff a lot, daily in the beginning. CEO’s should communicate often through written words (intranet, email, newsletter). Managers should stay plugged into their team’s temperature, literally and figuratively. A simple email to individuals asking, “so, how are you during all of this?” works. Employees want information (good or bad) and direction. Silence allows for fear and assumptions, neither of which are positive for creating and maintaining a healthy culture. Rarely does an uninformed employee assume “the best”.
- Add Culture Management as an item to the Executive Agenda. Company culture is an easy thing to overlook and let slide. You have a culture…regardless if you pay attention to it or not. It just might not be the culture you want. So, appoint someone as the owner of the topic to discuss with the executive team. Every leader plays a part in establishing and managing the company culture and should be well-equipped to talk about the culture evolution.
- Assess your culture through surveys. This may sound like a dreadful task, but there is no better way to learn what your employees think other than asking them. Important note here: surveys administered internally almost never yield valuable insight. Outsource the survey project to a 3rd party for the anonymity and trust of the participants. There are best practices to follow in surveying that make it an easy process. You do not have to create the wheel yourself!
It is culture that attracts and retains our people-period. It is culture that assists us in setting ourselves apart from our competition. It is culture that keeps our companies running in the manner which we believe to best operate-our style, our way, our edge.
As the world continues to turn, it’s culture that will allow us to turn with it and prevail. Or not.