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How to Become a Culture Champion

— May 25, 2021

Create a purposeful vision and culture plan. And promote action towards a positive, innovative, and collaborative environment. Your employees will work together to promote your organization.

When you think of today’s business, do you think of an assembly line dulling out products without fail? How about an environment where employees clock in, get stuff done, clock out, and leave work at work? Arriving the next morning ready to repeat the process?

This is NOT the business model of today. 

Change and innovation do not occur in a vacuum. Collaboration is the key to a successful organization. Positive work culture is a system that will promote that collaboration. 

As companies become more collaborative and innovative, culture champions become even more vital. They promote an engaging environment. An environment for positive client engagement AND employee satisfaction.

What is Culture in an Organizational Context?

Organizational culture determines what norms and business practices are acceptable within a company. They also determine how and when companies respond to a need for change. 

It refers to the personality and brand of the company.

Culture determines what products a company makes. What its customer base is. And how they operate and communicate daily (through words or actions). In essence, what an organization says, thinks, does, and promotes. Positive or negative and regardless of impact. 

Culture even affects how organizations grow and adapt to change. Do they innovate, or do they fall behind? Do they refuse to try anything new or listen to ideas?

Culture becomes the spring-board for change.

What is a Culture Champion?

A culture champion is a change leader. Culture champions use strengths and passions to create and sustain positive culture change. This change will drive results over competitors. Especially competitors that fail to create a collaborative and diverse culture.

Why Culture Champions?

Positive company culture leads to a happy workforce. This leads to results through employee engagement and satisfaction. 

The benefits of creating and supporting culture champions are: 

  • Greater interpersonal collaboration
  • Increased work performance
  • Employees that feel valued and a sense of contribution
  • Employees motivated by a shared sense of values
  • Increased quality of employees through recruitment
  • Employees that work with the company longer
  • Employees dedicated to the company’s goals 
  • Increased innovation 
  • Increased action

These are the foundations to Implementing and sustaining culture change within a company.

Who Should Be a Culture Champion?

Everyone should be a culture champion. Individuals from the bottom up and the top down within an organization. Those that champion change will create better avenues for change. This makes the desired culture intentional throughout the company and its departments.

This is why collaboration is key to culture change. 

The reality is that you have to find, cultivate, or become your company’s culture champion. 

Key Qualities of a Culture Champion

  • Courage
  • Commitment and passion
  • Trust and integrity
  • Consistent
  • Ability to leader
  • Ability to advocate for ideas and others
  • Innovation

How Do You Become a Culture Champion?

A culture champion is open to giving and receiving feedback. They collaborate with others and encourage reflection on misaligning values and roadblocks. Both within the company and in their own lives. 

They understand that change is a group effort, not a ‘solo’ pursuit. They inspire communication, trust, focus, and positive work culture. They do this by understanding company values. They notice and bring attention to data related to organizational values and roadblocks. 

Culture champions are guides that lead organizational culture change by example. They see the potential. And lift people up by investing in their future. 

These actions create results for their organization.

What Defines a Good Company Culture?

Good companies understand intent versus impact. They commit to change. They show that commitment through established company values that make up their brand. 

Examples of champions of cultural change include Google, Whole Foods, and Southwest Airlines.

Each champion dedicates themselves to focused and intentional change. This intention starts at the leadership level and grows throughout their hiring processes. Both new and long-term employees understand their companies’ values, vision, and mission. They work to grow their company’s mission through intentional action. 

What Are the Challenges of a Bad Organizational Culture?

Bad organizational culture creates poor communication and unhappy employees. This results in a lack of organizational growth and innovative ideas. 

Bad organizational cultures have poor employee retention rates and value independence over collaboration. Their employees also have different visions and values than the organization. 

In other words, employees don’t understand company values. And their leaders don’t live the organization’s values.

Each hired employee brings a different point of view into the company. And each promoted leader strengthens the company’s vision. These points of view can create misalignment with the company vision, OR they can enhance it.

How to Change the Culture in Your Organization

Start small. And start now. Gather data, plan, structure, and reflect honestly. Change Takes time. Enlist others to help you on this journey. The foundation you set now becomes the outline for success in the future. Here is a quick 7 step guide to help you: 

Step 1: Know Where Your Organization Stands

Before your organization’s culture can change, measure where your organization is. Do the research to understand the company culture.

  • Understand how employees and customers feel about your organization. Use customer and employee stories, hold interviews, create groups, and collect surveys. Listen to the perspectives shared by the people who interact with your organization.
  • Know typical turnover rates for employees. High turnover rates are a problem. Employees are leaving for a reason. Find out why.
  • Know how long it takes to fill positions. Positions with long-term vacancies reveal a lack of interest or quality in applicants. 
  • Look at customer and employee reviews. Sites like Glassdoor or Trustpilot provide insight into the perception of your organization.
  • Look at social media feedback. Social media shows how customers and the public view your organization’s message. This provides valuable knowledge related to the quality of your organization’s brand. 
  • Measure productivity through the quality and quantity of ideas and projects. What types of ideas are being generated within your company? How many of those ideas have led to active projects? How many of those projects are complete?
  • Identify workplace culture gaps. Across departments, how’s your organization described? How about across the employee and customer base?

Step 2: Define the Culture You Want

Know what your vision for success looks like. Ask yourself:

  • What results reflect the vision of the company?
  • What kind of culture reflects the vision of the company?
  • How do you know when your actions align with the company’s values?

Step 3: Plan for the Culture You Want

Structure the systems that will get you to the vision you have for the culture you want. Ask yourself: 

  • What obstacles might I encounter?
  • How will I handle the obstacles I might encounter?
  • Who are the culture champions who can be the change agents your organization needs?

Step 4: Develop a Strategy

Use the answers to the previous questions to develop a strategy for the culture you want. Ask for feedback from others within your organization. This will improve your strategy before you put it into action.

Step 5: Live Your Strategy

Find ways of both implementing and demonstrating your strategy. Inspire others through your actions. Ask yourself:

  • What areas of improvement in your organization’s culture can you identify?
  • How can you encourage feedback from others about company culture?
  • How can you participate in a positive social media presence for your organization?

Step 6: Teach Your Strategy to Others

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash.
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash.

Being a true culture champion means that you are willing and able to collaborate with others. Ask yourself: 

  • How can you communicate your organization’s vision to others?
  • How can you enlist others to align their actions with your organization’s values?
  • Can you recommend any training that your organization can invest in or advertise?

Step 7: Reward Your Culture Champions

Culture change isn’t easy. You and the other culture champions’ work needs recognition. Find ways to reward others by recognizing the contributions made by members of the team. This will allow you and your organization to celebrate coworker wins.

Create a Collaborative Culture for Change

Culture Champions drive organizations forward. 

Using their skills to spot, seek, and instill productive change in their environments. For culture champions to work, the culture of the company comes first. 

Create a purposeful vision and culture plan. And promote action towards a positive, innovative, and collaborative environment. Your employees will work together to promote your organization. And they will attract customers and new employees that will do the same. 

Join the conversation!