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In last week’s guest blog post, THINGS YOU CAN DO TO FOCUS YOUR PLANNING AND EXECUTION IN YOUR BUSINESS STRATEGY,
I covered how to create a plan, and why it’s important to get your team on board with that future plan.

In today’s blog, we will look at how to align values your business strategy through culture.

When you’re creating a plan with your team, where you’re going is as important as how you’re going to get there. When we think about “how”, we often think about what tasks we are going to take on, what projects we are going to complete and what goals we are going to hit. Underneath those tasks and projects are the values and behaviors that impact how successful are going to be in accomplishing those goals.Values and behaviors dictate how each person thinks and acts in a given situation. Making shaping the way your people think and act at work is a good starting point to accomplishing your business’s goals.

Often, we refer to these values and behaviors as culture; specifically think about what kind of culture is required to create the vision that you want. Every organization has a culture, the question is whether it’s the culture that you want or not.

Your employees behave in a certain way of doing things, and that usually dictates the norms and the acceptable ways of behaving from everyone else. How did it get that way? If you’re an owner, it’s likely your ways of thinking and acting that had an impact on how your employees think and act at work.

How do you get your culture to where you want it to be?

Step 1: Identify your culture how it is right now.

  • What are the norms of your organization?
  • If it was a person, how would you describe it? Nice, generous, fun, lazy, self centered, etc.
  • What are: “The way’s we do things around here”?
  • What are the behaviours and ways of being for your staff?

Step 2: Identify the culture that you want

  • Take a look at the vision that you created in my previous blog post and think to yourself: What would our culture have to be to get to where we want to go?
  • What behaviors would we have to embody to get to that next stage?
  • Think of the top performers in your organization, what behaviors and values do they have?
  • What behaviors would you want to see in your organization?

These behaviors are your new values. (Pick 5 or so because too many values is confusing)

Step 3: Start changing behaviors

There are 3 different levels of “living your values”.

  1. Talking the talk: You say one thing and you do something different. Not very powerful or effective, and your employees won’t know what to listen to, so they won’t do anything.
  2. Walking the walk: You have values and you’re living them; A great example to follow. That’s the beginning of positive change and real leadership.
  3. Rewarding the walk: Let’s say you value work life balance and the people that are getting promoted and praised are the ones that work 16 hours a day. As an employee, which behavior would you follow. Working hard, or work life balance.

Let’s say your values are high quality, but you’re pushing out product that is not ready for market but they need to be shipped. As an employee what you do you? Follow the values, or do the thing that’s not going to get you in trouble. Often management sets values as one thing (often buzzwords that don’t have much relevance to the employees) and then asks for different behaviors. If you were an employee, which one should you listen to, the values, or the manager telling you what to do.

There’s creating a type of cognitive dissonance.

”According to cognitive dissonance theory, there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognition (i.e., beliefs, opinions). When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance.”

If you don’t give your people clear directions, they will be confused at what to do next, and in the process will do nothing to avoid getting in trouble.

Conversely if you give your people clear behaviors to adhere to, AND create conditions that they will be supported in those values, then they will be empowered to take their own decisions on all issues because they will know: If I do this thing, and act in line with these behaviors, then I’m going to be ok, and my manager will support me.

That’s when the real magic happens in your strategic plan, when you’ve created conditions for you employees to thrive on their own and be successful because they know how they should act. They will take actions in line with the behaviors you set out, and the vision you want to accomplish. When you duplicate those behaviors and that type of thinking throughout your organization you’ll accelerate your success significantly.

In a poll done by Gallup they found that engaged employees are 20% more productive than none engaged employees. If you create a culture and a vision that people buy into, you’ll be well on your way to getting that 20% bump in performance from your team.

To learn more about how to create a strategic plan with your team, join our Lunch + Learn at CMPNY Coquitlam on June 22nd at noon, SIGN UP HERE.

For more information on strategic planning and developing culture visit www.smestrategy.net

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