10 Must Do’s for Creating and Sustaining a Strong Culture

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This article was written by Drive team member, Allison Duda, and has been reprinted and condensed with permission of the Drive team

A new year is a great time to set goals. Here are our top must do’s for creating and sustaining a strong culture for your organization in 2018. As you navigate these first weeks of 2018 we recommend that you sit down with your team and consider what on this list you do really well and what you need to work on as a team this year.

1. Focus on the Positive. The power of positivity can be especially helpful to those who need a little boost in employee morale. Negative talk (gossip, complaining and criticizing) can bring down even the best organization. It’s toxic to your culture, and your bottom line, so don’t let those Negative Nellies drag you down! Next time you catch yourself saying something negative, don’t be the Grinch, instead create Seuss’s Land of Fott-fa-Zee.

2. Ensure Shared Values. Skills and competencies are important, but behaviors are often rooted in one’s personal values. Have your team explore their values and share them with their colleagues. It is eye opening for staff to discover how their values impact them as a person, and what is important to their teammates. Be sure to hire employees who model behaviors that fit your values.

3. Give and Receive Feedback. When giving feedback, be specific, focus on the observed behavior, and describe the impact it had. It’s important to address conflict and how to have comfortable conversations. Most people love giving positive feedback but dread the tough stuff. If you’re used to structuring your feedback and developing a strong level of trust amongst your team, the tough stuff won’t feel so difficult anymore.

4. Follow-Through. Following-through builds trust and shows your commitment to getting the job done. Consider when your residents have a special request or a complaint, don’t you want your employees to resolve the issue and follow up afterwards? If you agree, then you need to model this behavior to your employees too.

5. Care About Your Team Members. If you want your people to care about your residents, not just checkoff tasks on a list, then you must care about your people! And show them that you do.

6. Play to Strengths and Look for the Bright Spots. At first glance this sounds like focusing on the positive, and it is, but it’s more than that. Let’s use recruitment as an example, when you are focused on strengths and what’s going well, you’ll want to look towards your superstar employees to find out: How did we find them? What about them makes them special? How do we keep them? How can we replicate what’s most important? If it was referral, consider ramping up your referral process. If they came from a local school, consider increasing your presence at this school. If it was someone who randomly applied online, how did they find you? What search terms were used? Ask them what it was that attracted them to you?

7. Set Expectations. All employees should know what is expected of them and in a field where we are struggling to retain employees past the honeymoon phase, setting expectations right from the start is critically important. Explain the importance of the organizational culture and the mindset that comes with being person-centered and focused on continuous performance improvement.

8. Evaluate Processes and Procedures. If you’re committing to continuously improving, and not falling behind the times, you’ll need to have systems in place to constantly evaluate and look for opportunities. You’ll also want to make sure that your current processes or procedures aren’t causing a bottleneck or hindering employees from doing the right thing.

9. Create Opportunities for Collaboration. We hear time and time again that teams are working in silos and that they aren’t working together to meet the resident’s needs. It’s important to create opportunities for team members to collaborate with each other.

10. Be Consistent. Starting and stopping new things all the time will never lead to movement and it can cause employees to distrust management. Flavor of the month clubs aren’t effective, and no one likes a boss who says one thing and does another. It is better to pick one thing and follow through on it then to try all ten, only to get overwhelmed and give up.

It was so hard to narrow this list down to just 10 and one thing we just couldn’t leave off the list is telling stories. Bonus: You now have our top 11 Must Do’s!

11. Telling stories and using examples. Stories paint a picture; they evoke emotion. Stories help people relate; they make an idea come to life. Next time you are working on updating your careers section of your website, your employee orientation, or even a simple newsletter, try including real life stories that provide insight into your culture. Stories are a powerful marketing tool!

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