So much has changed in the last few months as we’ve begun to adjust and move forward with some combination of life as we knew it, and what’s becoming the “new normal.” Many companies are beginning to meet in person more, and others are embracing a hybrid work model. It is truly wonderful to be able to see people together again, and the future appears bright for employees and teams to be able to collaborate, celebrate, and grow in the context of in-person environments. But the question remains, where do we go from here? How do we continue to build and strengthen cultures in these new environments?
Oftentimes, trends may come and go, and what’s new and exciting is simply a variation of a staple – something that’s been tried and true over the years. And much is the same with building culture. There are many culture-building trends that came out of the past year, such as virtual team-building events, virtual chat groups sharing good news, and more frequently asking the question “how are you doing?” — and truly stopping to listen. And like so many other parts of our lives, it can be difficult to balance the new versus old in how we build strong cultures. I believe that the foundation of a strong and unstoppable culture has not changed. The principles still apply, even as we look to navigate these uncharted waters by building upon that foundation.
As part of the Unstoppable Cultures Fellowship, an in-person masterclass experience that teaches proven, effective culture strategies and guides participants in creating their own Culture Roadmap, we help leaders develop their foundation for building a strong culture. I had the honor of asking two former Fellows the question:
How have the things you learned and developed at UCF served you in your own companies?
Lillian Montoya, President & CEO of CHRISTUS St. Vincent Health System, Northern New Mexico’s only comprehensive acute care hospital, shared:
“At my UCF session, we learned about the book ‘The Power of Moments‘ from the former VP of Chick-fil-A (David Salyers). I bought that book for my entire leadership team and we incorporated that learning into our quarterly town halls with our workforce. We were able to share key moments in a patient’s experience… when our action or inaction has an impact on “the peak moment”, those moments that a patient is most likely to remember as a lasting impression.”
Taking the time to explore those “peak moments” can help you define and build your culture. When employees are in a mix of remote and in-person environments, knowing what matters to them and what they value can help create those “peak moments” that they will remember, be motivated by, and will ultimately lead them to feel valued and cared for.
Some mile markers on the employee journey are clearly peak moments, such as their first day on the job. Others might be less obvious and are unique to the individual. In either case, we want those peak moments to be positive ones, and we have to recognize that what people value today may have shifted from what they valued a year ago.
We all understand that different people can appreciate different types of benefits and work environments. And having a variety of perks at work does not always translate to having a great culture. But understanding and delivering on what your employees want and value can go a long way to building a strong work culture. UCF Fellow, Frank Bisesi, the COO for Market Tech Consulting, shared,
“UCF allowed me to rethink how to reinvest differently in our employees and to empower them more. I restructured our HR department to be more employee friendly: now we do more regular events; we have benefits such as department meals, and we offer daycare solutions. We created a better work environment and I believe because of that, our average sales per rep has never been higher.”
When you invest in your people, and help them grow and achieve their goals, they will be motivated and oftentimes, truly surprise you with their performance.
We are all looking forward to finding the elusive “new normal” and new, better ways to work and support our employees. And no matter where your employees are working, the foundations of building a strong culture still apply and can act as a framework for growing an even stronger organization.
If you are looking to strengthen your culture in this new environment, my challenge for you is to start by asking yourself these two foundational questions:
- What do your employees truly value? Which peak moments in their journey need to be recognized and elevated?
- Take a look at your work environment (in-person and virtual): what’s something you can do in the next week to improve that experience for your team?
I hope that reading these stories and answering these questions will help you identify some tangible ways to build or enhance your work culture in this exciting next season to come. I’m cheering you on.
Together, we truly can build Unstoppable Cultures!