5 Tips For Setting Organizational Culture

Written by: Brady Drake

Photo by Kayleigh Omang

The culture of a company can make or break the financial stability and long-term success of a business. It’s important in any environment and economic climate, however, a company’s culture is especially important right now. To learn more about how to establish a company’s culture, we teamed up with Rick Holmberg, Owner of 2 Levels Up Coaching.

Rick believes there are five keys that help to set an organization’s culture:

1.  Start With You

Examine yourself from another’s perspective.  If your life were to end today, what would others say about you?  How would you be remembered? What impact would you have had on others’ lives?  

If we desire a life that is fulfilling, rewarding, in the service to others, one that is dedicated to the ideals we hold high, then we need to live with intentionality and integrity in serving those ideals.  So, start with you. Get clear with your vision. Your ultimate vision will forever drive you and your entire team. Once you have uncovered that vision everything else will begin to fall into place. But first, get real with yourself.

Pursue the best version of yourself.  Stick to your vision, for it was forged from your character—who you truly are. Your character is the result of your values being habituated.  If you have a value and that value has never cost you anything, maybe it’s not a value at all.

2.   Develop A Mission Statement

The Mission Statement is the ultimate structure of your organization.  It is derived from your vision and personal plan for success. Remember to lead within your style and beliefs because a team will always reflect the personality of their leader/coach.

Your mission statement will characterize how your Plan for Success drives the fundamental core of your team and program.  Do not ask your team to do that which you would not otherwise do yourself. Direct behaviors that you want your team members to exhibit.  It must be MEAN-ingful:

  • M: Memorable
  • E: Easy to teach and learn
  • A: Accountability is demanded
  • N: Never let up

A mission statement of 1-3 sentences is most effective. A 5-7 sentence statement can be used as long as there is some rhyme or rhythm to the text. This statement is fundamental to your program.  It must be practiced over and over again. Team members should be able to recite the mission statement from memory. Memorize it, believe in it and own it. Remember, thoughts become things and constant repetition and deliberate practice will ingrain the fundamentals of your program. Be deliberate with your teachings, direct your team and demand full accountability.

3.  Buy-In

The “Buy-in” stage is the most important component of building your culture.  It involves more moving parts than the previous ones. The members of your team/organization must completely commit to the direction of the program. You will encounter three groups of people when implementing your plan:

  • “One Guys”: They are with you from day one, they are your elite leaders, they yearn for change and are committed to the cause. They want discipline, structure and commitment. They believe in your vision and are aligned with your values.
  • “Some Guys”: They will side with the view that is most popular or can give them the greatest reward, they are swaying in the breeze. They dare not go against the breeze for fear that they may break, so they bend to the side that has the least resistance. This may be the largest group, so as the leader you must get them to buy-in because it is right.
  • “Un-Guys”: Un-interested, un-reliable, and un-caring. Use ultimatums, commit or quit. There may be some skilled players in this group that could really help your team. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. You cannot compromise everything you believe in for short-term success. Committed members will see right through your intentions and view you and your ideals as a fraud. Remember, character counts.

Once your team is formed and full commitment is established, you must train every day.  Ask the question, “What type of player do you want to be and what will it take to get there?”  You have provided a blueprint for success. Everyone must be speaking the same language in order for you to accomplish your goals.  Members will feel that they are making sacrifices for the team. Get them to understand that they are making a choice instead of sacrifices.

4.  Develop Relationships

Your team will never care what you know until they know how much you care.  Never overlook the opportunity for a “teaching moment.” This could be anywhere. Sometimes the most meaningful interactions are the ones that are unexpected, unintentional and unscripted.  Embrace positive coaching that emphasizes discipline, character, grit and togetherness. Lead and teach within your personality, strengths, genuine care and love for your individual team members will shine through.

  • What do you value in a team member?
  • How do you recognize it?
  • How do you develop it?
  • How do you reward it?
  • Reward the behavior you want

Every member of your team/organization has value and a voice.  No one person is bigger than your program. Provide constant communication, evaluation and feedback.  Be honest and compassionate. Give them a plan where they can see themselves having success. You must trust them and they must trust you.  Trust is paramount. Help them plan out their goals and ways they can strategically take small steps to achieve them. Help them cultivate willpower and determination knowing that their achievements will take time.  Small, smart choices done consistently over time will produce amazing results. In order to become a vehicle of excellence, they must become a machine of consistency. What do your Promote, Practice and Permit?

5.  Evolve

Every day, you are either growing or dying.  Culture is never a zero-sum game. You must evolve as a leader, coach, mentor and teacher. Adopt a growth mindset, constantly learning new systems, paradigms and dynamics that will enhance your team and organization. As you grow, your team, players and organization will grow with you. Understand that where your focus goes, your performance and energy go. As you keep moving forward, remember you can only control what you can control:

  • Attitude: Solutions-based, not problem-based. Proactive, not reactive.
  • Actions: Be true to yourself.
  • Preparation: Have a plan, work the plan.  Stick to the Process.
  • Energy: “Bring it” every day.  People will feed off your energy.
  • Effort: If you are not working on culture every day, then you do not have one.

To learn more, contact Rick on LinkedIn or at [email protected] or call or text him at 701-201-1333.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.