Culture matters more than ever in today’s highly transparent era. It can no longer be hidden behind closed doors; how we behave each and every day is critical to our organization’s reputation and brand. But who is responsible for culture? A recent article in Advertising Age highlights the trend toward involving CMO’s in improving or changing corporate culture. While CMOs do play a crucial role, culture management and evolution should be a collaborative, shared responsibility. It is imperative to bring together the full capabilities and resources of the entire organization– Marketing, Communications, HR, IT plus all other operations.
Leading culture comes down to building shared beliefs that drive desired behaviors. Yet culture can be elusive and difficult to influence. Our beliefs are formed by what we observe and experience–the behaviors, symbols and systems we internalize and convey meaning to us. In our eighteen years of helping many of the world’s best brands, Gagen MacDonald has developed three key ways to direct and accelerate a culture’s evolution:
- Be intentional: What is the narrative that tangibly connects values and behaviors to your purpose, mission, strategies and performance goals?
- Target experiences: What kind of high-impact experiences can you create to build beliefs and drive desired behaviors?
- Spark a social movement: Leaders are the catalysts that spark a social movement, but all employees influence and co-create the culture. How can your leaders catalyze a culture movement that inspire your employees to get involved and own it? What must they do – individually and collectively?
All functions bring unique perspectives and opportunities to evolve the culture. Marketing connects the culture to building brand, customer experience and reputation. Communications clarifies and conveys the messages that build beliefs and reinforce desired behaviors and mindsets. HR and OD build capabilities, embed the values and behaviors into the talent management process and systems. Business and functional operations bring culture to life when making decisions and strategizing. All play a role in building beliefs by influencing the behaviors, symbols and systems we experience.
So when it comes down to it, yes, leaders play a pivotal role – yet culture evolution is everyone’s responsibility. Take the pulse of your culture with a culture assessment.