How to Establish a Culture That Can Grow Organically

How to Establish a Culture That Can Grow Organically

At the root of almost all organizations’ successes or failures, there is the matter of their internal culture. The culture of a business can be likened to the blood that runs through its veins. You can’t always see it, but it’s within every part of the organization. A healthy culture sets a business up for success, whereas an unhealthy or simply unmonitored culture can undermine progress at every turn.

Let’s discuss three necessities for creating a culture that can sustain itself, improve your business, and evolve well over time.

1. You Must Be Willing to Invest

In 2012, I accepted a position as the CEO of Nevada Donor Network (NDN), an organ procurement organization (OPO) that was undeniably failing. When I came on board, the organization was ranked as the second worst-performing OPO in the country, a title I was determined to free us of.

In the first couple of years, we worked to improve every part of NDN and learned repeatedly that culture affected everything. It wasn’t until a few years in that we started seriously investing in creating a culture that aligned with the organization’s values and purpose. we wanted to create a culture that would lift up both the organization as a whole and everyone who worked there.

To achieve this vision, we had to invest substantial resources and time, but the results of our efforts have been invaluable in the years since. In hindsight, it’s easy to see where investing in our culture earlier could’ve magnified our future successes.

2. Inclusion and Collaboration Are Vital

If it sounds like I achieved this new and improved culture single-handedly, that is utterly false. Firstly, we brought in an expert to guide us through the process. They also proved to be an essential outside perspective and helped us structure the myriad ideas.

More importantly, we collaborated with everyone in our organization before coming to the final version of what we wanted our culture to be. While this might sound impossible, I highly recommend you find a way to achieve it. Whether it’s in-person or via digital survey, the insights you’ll receive will aid in creating something that everyone feels passionate about and, therefore, will uphold in the long term.

We approached inclusive and collaborative culture creation in tiers. The top leadership in the company sat down with team members in a series of town halls first to review what wasn’t working, what was working, and how we wanted things to work in the future.

Once we felt we had collected ample feedback to help set a new course, we convened the leadership from all parts of the organization to refine our vision. Lastly, we collaborated with all individuals who hadn’t been consulted yet to ensure that everyone had a voice and was on board with our new direction.

3. Execute, Celebrate, and Nourish

Once your unique culture is in place, that is to say, one that is in alignment with your organization’s purpose(s) and core values and agreed upon by the vast majority, there are still a few things left to do to ensure it sticks around. The first and most important thing you can do as a leader is embodying the culture you want to see. Check in with yourself often on this.

Secondly, celebrate your culture often and with gusto! Live it, talk about it, and honor it at every turn. Make it a part of meetings and celebrations alike. The more you incorporate the ideas behind your culture into the day-to-day, the better others will understand it and follow through in their work.

Lastly, you must nourish your culture, especially in its infancy. This means creating strategies that are in harmony with your unique culture, keeping others accountable to it, and hiring individuals who show characteristics that will easily fit within it. You can learn more about the importance of hiring for your desired culture in my article here.

The Process Pays Off

Putting your organization’s culture first may seem counterintuitive, especially if there are seemingly more pressing issues to address. But by investing and focusing on improving your culture to fit your goals, you will then be able to address other issues in a meaningful and long-lasting way.

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