April 1, 2019
Jacki HartLast winter, Landscape Ontario Peer to Peer Network members had two, full-day networking workshops that focused on company culture. One focused on establishing a culture of engagement, the other on developing a culture of safety and wellness. As we now head into the season where you onboard your team — blending new employees with returning ones — I think it’s a great idea to pause and think about their experience of working together.

What are your company’s core values? What is non-negotiable? How do you treat each other? What is not acceptable? How does everyone know what’s right and wrong in your business? For example, if one of your core values is personal growth — what exactly does that mean? Are staff supposed to self-identify what they need/want to learn (either personal skills or technical skills)? Who supports their goals? What is expected of them and you? How will progress be measured and communicated? What if the goals change? What will it look like every day if personal growth is a part of daily culture?

I’ve worked with many companies and teams to identify and define their culture and core values. For companies who simply include them in the printed employee handbook or post them on a wall, there’s really little or no impact. But for those who enliven and communicate the core values as a part of daily focus and language, it can make a huge transformation.

When core values can be used every day to guide decisions, discussions and behaviour, there is really no looking back. These companies attract right-fit people, clients, suppliers and projects/contracts. Their policies align with their core values, processes, performance evaluations, brand messaging, and social media posts.

Recently, I spent a day with a management team of 10 people. We were working on stepping up their personal leadership abilities and solving perennial challenges. We conducted a group exercise where two groups individually listed all of the company processes and policies they felt were consistently broken or not working. A year previously, the company core values had been clearly defined and communicated. When we looked at the lists produced by the two groups, I could tell the core values had been ignored. I challenged them to rhyme off the values to me, which they did with ease. Then I asked them to help me to understand how their lists could exist if the core values were being followed?

After an interesting silence, one by one, they piped up and started talking about which core values weren’t being followed, and what the different outcome would be if they had kept those values at the forefront each hour of each day. The energy in the room became so dynamic and exciting! They could see very quickly how the solution to most of their challenges was right in front of them. All they had to do was agree to fully-engage in the culture that was already established. It was a very cool revelation for them all, and I’m looking forward to hearing back from them with examples of how their engagement and shift in mindset is making a difference this spring. I’m confident their ‘aha’ moment during our session will carry them through to hold themselves and each other accountable to consistent behaviour, alignment with policies and consistent engagement in procedures across the board.

So, if your company struggles at times with achieving consistent attitudes, actions and accountability, have faith. In my experience, most of the reason for inconsistent results is rooted in a lack of understanding and clarity on what’s expected and what’s wrong-fit. If you’re not sure about how effective a clearly defined company culture can be, then join LO’s Peer to Peer Network by emailing signup.Peer2Peer@landscapeontario.com. Ask your peers who have worked hard on their company culture how it’s working for them and how you can get started. Ours is a journey of continued mutual improvement as your company and team continue to grow and raise the bar.
Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager