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The Post-Pandemic Culture… who are you now?

There’s this great parable about the two houses – one built on the rocks and the other built on the sand. The rains came. The winds blew. The house built on the rocks was battered but still standing after the storms passed. The house built on the sand washed away.

The morale of this story seems pretty obvious and remains applicable to so many aspects of life – raising children, friendships, relationships but what about an organization’s culture?

In just the past couple of weeks, I’ve been called in to help rebuild culture in a foundational way. It’s like an organization either has completely lost its way during the pandemic or it sees 2023 as an opportunity to rekindle its mission. I’ve got clients on both sides of that spectrum and wanted to share some thoughts as others prepare for the new year.

Here are five things you can do to get started...

Take an inventory of how your organization changed the last three years.

From top to bottom, what did you do differently in 2019 and how do you want to do business moving forward? There may be old traditions, rituals, business opportunities that could be brought back in the new year. Taking time to reflect about what used to work could be a very helpful exercise.

Ask employees why they still come to work every day for you.

After the pandemic, the answers now might surprise you and likely are completely different than they would have been in 2019. After all, there are a million ways to make money, so why did your employees choose YOUR company and this profession? Having gone through this exercise several dozen times in my career, I can promise whatever assumptions an executive team makes to these answers may only match half the actual responses.

Get crystal clear on your organization’s value proposition.

One of my clients has a very public mission statement that everyone assumes is the reason people are part of the organization, but the actual value members receive from being part of the organization has very little to do with that very nice public mission statement. Typically, people’s connection to an organization goes much deeper and can be much more personal than the sterile words on the website. If you don’t know, ask.

Recognize the shared human experience opportunity you can create.

Of course, people are going to their job to make money to support their lifestyle and their personal hopes and dreams. Again, there are a million ways to make money – and likely many competitors they could work for instead of you. Making sure leaders know how to inspire, motivate, reward and appreciate their team becomes more critical now. Placing a priority on intangibles, such as having fun at work and creating opportunities for people to get to know each other outside of the office also can create more stickiness.

Start small and grow organically.

Gather your leadership and figure out some small but meaningful ways you can connect with your teams, your customers and each other in 2023. If you are hesitant to make any long-term plans, try one small event or gesture to see how it is received then replicate. Kicking off a monthly bowling team might be a bit ambitious, but asking a few colleagues, “hey, do you want to go bowling next Thursday?” might be just the salve the team needs to reconnect.

Culture-building doesn’t happen overnight, but hopefully these tips will give you and your team some conversation starters as you prepare to do great things in 2023 and rebuild your foundation on the rock. If you need an objective guide to help you, give me a ring… I love this stuff!

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