How to Build an Intentional Culture

At EOS®, we often hear from owners who are frustrated by people issues. In fact, it’s the most common reason leaders give for not getting what they want from their businesses and for hiring an EOS Implementer®. 82% to be exact! Entrepreneurs state that their key hurdles are getting enough out of their teams, being on the same page with the vision, and working together to win. It certainly is not easy, and it requires courage and commitment to change the tide.

You Already Have a Team Culture 

Some leaders argue they don’t have (or need) culture in their company. Yet, whether by design or by accident, every organization has a culture. Occasionally, that team culture isn’t exactly what the leaders thought it was or what you’d hoped for when you first built your business. Maybe culture wasn’t even in your thoughts at all.

There are many ways to think about culture. Some owners just assume everyone will care as much as they do about the success of the business and what it looks and feels like to be part of the organization. Some leaders leave it to the team or HR, or outsource it, to build their “culture.” Others feel that informing the team what their culture is (through marketing efforts, brochures, posters, and on-demand videos) creates team culture. 

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that.

Foundational Concepts

Building the best culture for your organization, one that you build intentionally, takes attention and nurturing.

1. Be Intentional

Adding a foosball table or a smoothie bar doesn’t qualify as a standard to create engagement and build culture. To solve people issues, you must go to the root of the problem. Step 1 is defining who you are (or want to be) as an organization. You start by creating (or reviewing) your Vision/Traction Organizer® (V/TO), a two-page business plan. The V/TO® should represent the most simple, crystal-clear picture of who you are as a company, your vision, and how you’ll get there. Ask yourself, are all of your processes, people, and data aligned to support this vision with intention? If not, it’s simply an indication that there’s work to do! As Gino Wickman says, “It’s just an issue.”

Share universal access to your vision. EOS One makes it easy for your entire team to see where your business has been, where it is, and where it's going. Get started for free.

2. Courage Matters

Accountability soars once a business gets clear on its Core Values and where it wants to go. With accountability, it becomes harder to ignore those on the team who aren’t aligned. Leaders must be brave enter danger, and face obstacles head-on. It takes courage to have tough conversations (sometimes a lot of them), but they’re necessary if you’re truly serious about changing your culture. George Astair says it perfectly: “Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” Be certain you have leaders and managers ready and willing to dig in and do the hard work! With a balance of grit and determination paired with patience and grace, you’ll be able to make the necessary changes over time.

3. Invest the Time (and Money)

Changing team culture takes time, and typically longer than you imagine (usually 18 months or more before you start to see changes from top to bottom within your organization). We tell leaders to aim for one great people move a quarter to get 100% Right People in the Right Seats. Devote the time and resources necessary to be successful.

Aim for Long-Term Success

Building an intentional culture won’t happen overnight; it’s not a one-and-done task. And it’s not for the faint of heart.

Rather, to see lasting changes, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort and to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That means expecting turnover from people who are not on board with the new culture of accountability or who do not share your Core Values.

But I urge you to stick with it. Your consistency as a leader helps your people see you’re serious about this intentional culture thing. It’s not just a new flavor-of-the-month management fad. 

When you commit to the right methods, tools, and strategies, I promise you, the rewards are worth it. You’ll be unstoppable, and you’ll see payoffs in profits and happiness.

Attract, hire, and retain the right people to create a thriving workplace. Read chapter one of People

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