Strategies for Improving Your Culture Quickly

May 25, 2022
May 25, 2022 Jamie Notter

This post will not apply to everyone, but here’s a really important dynamic that I think is starting to emerge right now.

A lot of organizations have already suffered from the great resignation, but there’s an even larger number that are about to. I wrote a few weeks ago about how the only way to beat the great resignation is with culture—your top people who are thinking about leaving are more likely to stay when they see that your existing culture is actually pretty great. So that’s the challenge now: if we want to keep the people who are already looking to leave, we need to make our culture awesome—REALLY quickly.

As you might have guessed, there’s no “easy button” on this one, but here are some strategies to consider for making meaningful improvements to your culture in a short amount of time.

Create a culture team. Don’t underestimate the power of simply showing your people that you’re even working on culture. Obviously this team will have to accomplish something for it to be really effective, but the act of creating the team and authorizing them to come up with ideas for improving culture sends a clear signal that culture is on the mind of leadership, and that is critical. To do this one right, you’ll want a clear charter that explains their role, which should be focused on removing aspects of the culture that get in the way of performance (and not on planning birthday parties and happy hours).

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Quickly create the first draft of a culture playbook. We’ve been using the culture playbook model with clients for years, and the basic concept is that culture change requires running lots of “plays” (changes in the way you do things in areas like process, structure, or technology). By having a playbook, you’re buying yourself some time because you are recognizing that the changes vary in what they address and in how long they take. And if you’re good at coming up with a set of plays that cover both short and long-term strategies, people will quickly see that your culture is moving in the right direction, even if it’s not totally there right now.

Start a low-hanging-fruit play even before the playbook is ready. Time is of the essence here, so at the same time you are fleshing out the first draft of the playbook, have the culture team get consensus on the one, single play that has the best combination of “easy to implement” and “impact on the culture.” If you do this work too sequentially, you’ll have people jumping ship before you’ve had the chance to improve things.

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Our Culture Coaching program can help you with this, because we can work with you or your culture team to customize the order of activities so we can push hard to get results quickly. On the other hand, if you feel like your culture is already stable enough to stave off resignations in the short term, you could take the more traditional “culture design” approach that develops a solid, prioritized playbook in 4-6 months.

But (as I have said a lot over the years), whatever you do…do something! The organizations that create cultures that make them the destination during this great resignation are going to be miles ahead of everyone else.

If you’d like to discuss any of this with me (time is of the essence after all!) you can schedule a call using my calendly link.

Jamie Notter

Jamie is an author and growth strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders integrate culture, strategy, and execution to achieve breakthrough performance and impact. He brings twenty-five years of experience to his work designing culture-driven businesses, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is also the co-author of three books—Humanize, When Millennials Take Over, and The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement—and holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.
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