This is Podcast number 10 with Clay Staires of Leadership Tulsa. Today, we are going to be talking about creating a lens of culture. We know that here at Clay Staires Leadership Tulsa what we spend most of our time with as we begin working with a specific business  speaker Tulsa owner, entrepreneur, client, manager is trying to help them unravel people issues.
One of the primary things that we work on here at Clay Staires Leadership Tulsa is over and over and over, “Clay we need help with the people. We got teamwork issues. We have attitude issues. We have production issues.” Many, many times it all comes down to what we are getting from the people. And so, it doesn’t take long at all as we begin to ask a few questions to discover that we have hired inappropriately. We have hired people, brought them into our company hoping that they would do a good job, hire and hope is very common.
Also, another common thing that we have found that Clay Staires Leadership Tulsa is that people hire in a hurry. “Oh no, my gosh, under duress, under stress.” They have to hire someone really quickly and so they just bring people into their organization, into their company, into their volunteer group, onto their Board of Directors, onto their team. Because they had to fill a spot in a hurry, they just grab somebody and this somebody just happened to be the best of the group.
So they bring them in and for some reason, it doesn’t work out. For some reason, it’s just not happening. Then all of a sudden, I get in touch with them they are talking with me and they’re going, “Clay, help me with these issues that we’ve got.” So what I want to do is answer that question. I want to answer it once and for all. I want to give you a solution to this issue and it’s going to be a concept that you’re going to be able to come back to over and over and over again and solve so many of your problems.
Once again, as the founder of Clay Staires Leadership Tulsa, I found this to be one of the probably one of the top three primary categories of stress and pressure for business speaker Tulsa leaders. Let’s talk a little bit about creating a culture in your company. Now, in case you don’t know this, every single company has a culture. Whether it’s been a culture that you have developed intentionally or not, your company has a culture. For instance, if several of your employees are lazy, if they don’t always show up to work on time, if they tend to resist change, if they tend to not produce strong results, they tend to be a problem, if they call in sick a lot. This is a culture that has been developed and you know that it is a culture and not just a person.
When you hire in new people and all of the sudden you find that these new people, “Man, they sure seem a lot like the other people that I’ve got.” When I interviewed them they sounded so much different but now that they’ve been here for a little while, they’re just like everyone else. What they are doing is they have just automatically molded into the culture that we’ve created.
Something else that I’ve done as I’ve traveled the country speaking to business speaker Tulsa owners through the company Clay Staires at Leadership Tulsa, we have found that when I ask companies, when I ask leaders, these are like major leaders, CEOs, C-level leaders at companies, to identify their core values, identify that the key things that your company stands for, most people sit and look around the room. They look up and to the left, you ever had that, you know you’re asking somebody question. Again, I was a schoolteacher for years so I fully understand that look up and to the left as you’re trying to figure out what the answer is.
But unfortunately, even the leaders don’t have a strong grasp on what the core values are, what the culture is. So as a result, their business speaker Tulsa has taken on a mob mentality. It’s taken on the culture of the mob, whatever the mob thinks is best. So what we want to do as leaders is we want to come in and have a well-defined culture. That’s what I want to talk about here is, how do we do that. Or if you already have these core values and they’re up on the wall, how do you begin to get them into the people’s minds and into their hearts on a consistent basis? How do you nurture that culture?
So the first thing we’re going to talk about, if you do not have anything like this, if you’re still wondering, “Man, well how do we do this? What’s going on?” Just you know, this doesn’t necessarily have to be for the entire company. You might just be a manager of a specific division. You might just have a small team that you work with within the company. You can do this within a small team, a complete division of the company or you can do it in the entire company as well.
But as a leader, the first thing that we want to do is, we want to gather our team members, our primary people into a short meeting. It doesn’t have to be a long meeting, but into a meeting and we want to begin asking them what are — what type of place, what type of environment do you want to work in? What type of people do you want to work with? They’re just basic questions. We put them up on on a chalkboard, whiteboard, put them up on a flip chart. Just these two questions: What type of environment do you want to work in and what type of people you want to work with? If you want to add a third question, you certainly may.
The third question might be, what do you want to — as a worker in a company, what do you want to provide for the customer? What would make you proud to work at this place? What characteristics would make you proud to work at this place? What characteristics in other people would make you proud to work with them? What characteristics would make you proud to say, “Yes, we provide this for our customer”?
At this point it’s just you want to get a bunch of words, and you will get a ton. You’ll get things like trust, teamwork and accountability and innovation. You’ll get a ton of words. They’ll be all over the board. Write them all down, okay. Just write all of those words down on the board as people are saying them. Again, you want to keep going. Let this thing go until people begin to run out of conversation. They begin to run out of words but get it all out there.
Your second step, whether you do it in this meeting or whether you do it in a follow-up meeting, is to visit these words and now begin to combine. If it’s in a second meeting, you might want to just revisit them quickly and see if there’s anything else that they want to add. But once you have a full list up on the board, then what you want to do next is simply begin to combine the words cause chances are very good that many of the words that are up there actually mean the same thing or they can fit under the heading of another word.
You know we can group these words. If you have 20 words up there or 30 words up there, it’s very possible that those words can be condensed down into maybe four or five words that include all of those others. Again, you don’t have to get rid of any words, we’re just combining words. It’s almost like we’re making columns of words.
So we’re going to reduce this list in the second step. We’re going to reduce this list down to four to six, probably no more than six, because we want these words to be easily remembered by the group. If you have 7, 8, 12, 15 words, you’re just going to lose people. They’re not going to remember all of them. You want to keep it three, four, five words is about where you want to be. We even worked with one company that they just had one. They only had one phrase that was their culture. It identified and it was their core value and it identified how they wanted to make decisions and that one phrase was “Be Nice”. Ah, very interesting they took everything through that filter.
Now that we have condensed or reduced all of these words down to four to six, the next thing we want to do is we want to ask for acceptance. We want to ask the group if they would be willing to accept these words. At this point, we’re probably going to get head nods, people nodding their head and I’m okay with that. That’s just fine to let them nod their heads. In a moment, I want more from them. But right now, a head nod will be fine. Will you accept these words?
Then the second step is we’re going to be looking to see if they will agree. In other words, we can ask the question, “If we achieve these words on a consistent basis, will this be a company that you will be eager to work for?” We’re looking for their agreement, not just their acceptance but their agreement with the words. At this point, we’re not just looking for a head nod, we actually want words to come out of their mouth. We want them to say yes.
If someone says no, then we can ask them what would be some words that we have missed, because the ideas that at this point that we have had agreement throughout as we have been combining the words. What you have done now is you’re at the point where you have defined the why. You have defined, why do I come to work? Why do I want to work with these people? And, why do I want to produce things for customers? That is so valuable for you as a leader.
Once again, as Clay Stairs of Leadership Tulsa, I found over and over and over that managers and business speaker Tulsa owners are trying to get people to produce on a consistent basis, results that the people have no connection with, the people have no desire, the people have no passion. They just come to work, make a paycheck so that they can go spend their paycheck, so they can come to work, so they can make a paycheck, so they can spend their paycheck and they’re just in that cycle.
There’s no emotional connection with the work that’s being done. That is why it’s going to be very important for us to create this lens of culture for our employees and to help steer our company. We’re asking them questions, “Do you like these words, these principles, these concepts, these boundaries?” We’re looking for agreement. We’re looking for people to say, “Yes, yes,” even to a point where I will go around the circle and I’ll point to people. I need to hear yes from you, just a head nod is not enough. I need to move from just the agreement or from just the acceptance to agreement. An agreement is them actually saying, “Yes, I agree.” business speaker Tulsa
Then finally, what we’re going to do in this last step is I want to move the group now to commitment. Again, this can all be done in one meeting or it can be done in several depending upon how much turmoil and how much struggle is going on. I’ve worked with a couple of different municipal organizations that were dealing with some very, very disgruntled employees. There’s a huge split between the workforce and management and it took us about three months to get to this point. Three months of meeting like every other week to try to get to a point where we had these common words on a page.
Now, this final step that we’re moving forward is, now we are looking for their alignment. I’m no longer just interested in you accepting that these things are good or that you just agree with them. I now want you to align your decisions with these words, these concepts, these principles, these boundaries, these phrases. So what I’m going to do as we have condensed all these down, I’m going to write the words on a big piece of flip chart paper, so get them up on the wall. I’m going to ask the group now for willingness to adopt these into the daily culture of the company.
Would you be willing to adopt these into the daily culture of our company? People are going to say “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” and again you can go around the around the table and get a yes from everybody. Here’s the important part here, before you accept their commitment, you’ve got to give them some push back. This is something again — At Clay Stairs Leadership Tulsa, this is something we’ve become known for. You’ve got to give push back. Even with your mouth and with just making a sound with your mouth, where you’re going, “hsssh,” kind of that little breath in, just go, “Man, I don’t know. I don’t know.”
You got to doubt their ability to do what you say, “Are you sure? Because this isn’t going to be easy. Are you sure you’re going to be able to do it?” What you’re doing now is you’re tapping into their self pride, their self motivation to say, “Yes, I can do it. I can do this thing.” Now, there might be some that say, “Yeah, you’re right. We can’t and they fall away really quick.” These are people you want to have on an exit ramp in your company.
But the star employees are going to stand and they’re going to lean into the resistance rather than pushing and rather than falling away. They’re going to accept it and they’re going to say, “Yes, we can. Yes, I am willing to do this. Even though you’re telling me it’s going to be difficult, I am willing to do it.” At that point and this is the key thing, at that point, I pull out a marker and I asked them, I invite them to come up and put their name on the list of words, phrases, concepts, principles, whatever we have. Senses, whatever we have. That they would come and commit.
Commitment is when they write their name. They sign their name. There is no ownership until they put their name on it. So again, these are the steps that I take people through in my companies to create a culture. Again, different companies will have different cultures but it is important for you to do this as a leader. Again, you can do it for your entire organization. You can do it for just the division that you are over, the department that you’re over or you can do it with just a small group that you are managing in the company as a whole.
But these are the steps that you want to go through to create a lens of culture. We’re going to be following up with some other steps on how you can recruit through these lens, how you can interview, how you can hire and so forth to make sure that your culture gets stronger and stronger. How you can nurture it along the way. Once again, this is Clay Staires at Leadership Tulsa with Podcast number 10, creating a lens of culture.
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Clay Staires