Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately… Building a lasting culture.
I believe in the power of culture and I believe in our power to intentionally create the environment and company we want. But it takes quite a bit of effort.
One of the aspects of our Living for Monday culture is our monthly book club. We read a book every month as a team — so far we’ve read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Start with Why by Simon Sinek. Both great books, and Sinek gives us the first step to building a culture that lasts in the title of his book. Let’s start there.
- Start with Why – Why is our purpose. It’s what we exist to accomplish. As Sinek outlines in the entirety of his book, nothing matters unless and until you start with why. Why? Because that’s where motivation comes from. That’s how we draw in our clients or audience or believers or cult. Why is the reason our employees show up to work and our customers buy our products and services. Why matters most. The Living for Monday why: Drive discovery of purpose and inspire intentional action. Everything we do is with that purpose in mind.
- Define values – Sinek describes values as the ‘How’ to your ‘Why.’ They bring to life a somewhat abstract concept and begin to distill it down into actionable principles. Values are attractors of talent. They tell people how we go about doing things, what they can expect, and whether they will align with us. They’re a differentiator. And most importantly, because they are an outpouring of our ‘Why,’ they give us a way to identify the people with whom we want to work. They tell us whether we’re a good fit. We have six values that we hold dear at Living for Monday.
- Build values into the operations – Defining values and not putting them to use is kind of like baking a cake and throwing it away. Why would you do such a thing? Values are only powerful when they are built into the essence of an organization. They drive product development, employee growth, incentives, and ultimately the organization’s success. We live our values in every possible way. One example of how we’re building L4M around our values is by reading a book every month and incorporating our newfound knowledge into our operations, which helps us all to learn and grow (one of our core values).
- Hire, fire, create, and make decisions based on those principles – There’s not much more to this one. This is everything. Trey and Nick align with the L4M values. They both share our why. They’re excited about what we’re up to. We look at our why and our values before we make any decision to grow the company or take on a new opportunity. It gives a sense of purpose and passion to everything we do.
- Invest in the people – I haven’t worked in or witnessed an organization yet where the people weren’t everything. People matter – that’s one of my strongest beliefs in the world. And I wholeheartedly subscribe to the theory that focusing on the employees and their growth, development, passion, and happiness makes for happy customers and happy shareholders. Did I mention it helps create incredible culture?
- Believe. Inspire. Act. – As a business owner or leader at any level, we’ve got to believe what we say. We have to espouse the purpose and values of the organization in our personal and professional lives. We get held to a higher standard. It’s a double edged sword in some ways. It means the camera is on us when we act out of line with what we say we believe, sure. But it also gives us leverage to inspire because we embody what the organization is all about. And inspired people take action. They change things. They make things happen that otherwise wouldn’t.
I’m no expert, and Living for Monday is only barely viable at this point. But if I had to bet on how to build a lasting culture, I’d say the six steps above are a pretty good place to start.
What do you think? How have you built lasting cultures? What should be added to the list above? Let’s toss some ideas around in the comments!