Are You Defining Your Culture or Creating It?


Today, companies in virtually every category are going through major transformations: Education, Healthcare, Finance, Telecommunications, Television and Video Distribution, Aerospace/Defense, Fast Food/Fast Casual Restaurants… the list goes on. With these changes, companies need clearly defined cultures connected to their mission, values and purpose to inform and inspire their existing employees and to attract their next generation workforce.  Many think of this process as “employer branding” whereby a culture is defined and communicated.  However, that stops short of what’s really demanded in today’s world.

Given the importance of employee alignment with and enthusiasm around these major business transformations, CEOs, CMOs and Chief Talent Officers have never been more connected. They’re sitting at the table together, ensuring the brand promise is being delivered at every level. For many companies, this requires the installation of new values, behaviors, processes and workplace infrastructures to achieve their business goals. That goes beyond branding and communications to the redesign of the employee experience. One could argue that we are now not only defining and communicating culture but also creating one.

This may seem like a wild declaration, but considering that so many leaders are starting from a point of major transformation; it’s giving them license to treat the organization as a start-up. Re-writing the culture. Tossing out all the stuff that isn’t working. That’s not to say leaders are forgetting the brand’s heritage all together, but rather preserving the best parts and infusing them into a new story.

And the best part? Everyone wins! Leadership has a galvanized workforce; employees are re-sold on their employer and re-inspired toward the cause; candidates are attracted to this “new” organization with the opportunity to build something and make an immediate impact on companies and industries alike; and marketers and consultants… well, we extend our value and impact. This maker-movement is fully alive and well.

My advice to all Chief Talent Officers in this climate is, “don’t squander this opportunity.”  Defining and announcing an employer brand is not enough anymore, and it’s not strictly a marketing exercise. Change in employee behavior (i.e., from transactional to creative, empowered and entrepreneurial), and making a measurable impact on the customer experience requires a re-architecture and re-programming of your workplace, all the while perpetuating and reinforcing your brand promise. I challenge everyone to go further with your recruitment and employee engagement communications. Don’t just announce change; build it.  Involve your people throughout the entire journey. Only then will they truly understand and embrace the transformation that’s taking place. Transform your business, your workplace, the industry…  and maybe even the world!