Welcome to Season 2, Episode 13 of Meet the Expert® with Elliot Kallen!
Elliot Kallen brings on MaryBeth Hyland of SparkVision to discuss the importance of a values-driven corporate culture, how to determine your company values, and how to live those values on a daily basis.
Meet Our Guest
Founder & Chief Visionary, SparkVision
As the Founder and Chief Visionary of SparkVision, MaryBeth Hyland knows that extraordinary success is rooted in the vision, values, and culture crafted by purpose-driven leaders and their tribe.
Her personal life’s mission is to create spaces where voices are heard, stories are released, and purpose is ignited.
Her recent awards include, “Circle of Excellence”, “Innovator of the Year”, “Top 100 Women”, “Civic Engagement Leader” and “Leading Women.”
What is corporate culture, and why is it important?
There are so many ways of thinking about corporate culture.
In general, it's "the way things are done around here."
A company’s culture can also be viewed as the emotional experience of the workplace:
How do you feel before you arrive?
How do you feel when you’re there?
How do you feel when you leave the office and go home?
Another way to consider company culture is the average of the personalities in the corporation.
Company culture is something that can be consistent, but it can be spoiled by one bad apple — a "culture-killer" — that comes into the team.
MaryBeth focuses on helping executives understand their company culture, and be intentional about aligning actions, behaviors, practice, and policies with company values.
What can CEOs do to create a successful company culture?
It's key to have clear company values. Those values embody a company's core motivators & beliefs. Then, companies can use those values as a guidepost for the hiring process.
Instead of looking for “culture fit” (i.e., hiring a group of people who look and act exactly like you), hire for people who have similar intrinsic drivers — ergo, the same values — as your company.
What do vision, mission, and values have to do with company culture?
A lot of executives are familiar with the concepts of vision, mission, and value. However, it’s often treated as a branding exercise instead of a guiding principles for how companies and employees make decisions.
Values dictate how your company approaches work every day.
Values x Behavior = Culture
Here's a values-driven framework for approaching the hiring process:
- How do your team members approach the hiring process?
- What company values do your current employees find to be most important?
- How are you asking questions, and uncovering intrinsic motivators, to see whether candidates would be a good match for your company culture?
- Will their entry into the company help strengthen your culture, or will it detract from the culture?
What can CEOs do to strengthen company culture?
Step 1: Define your company values.
Let’s say your company values fun.
Step 2: Define the indicators of each value.
How do you measure fun? What are some specific indicators?
Step 3: Make sure your team is on the same page.
What does “fun” mean to each individual employee? You can send a survey asking out to your team members to determine whether you’re in or out of alignment.
Step 4: Maintain alignment with your team.
Check in regularly to make sure their experience aligns with the company's biggest values.
For example, after a company event, send out a survey asking:
What values did you experience today?
How did you experience them?
On a scale from 1-10, how well did you have fun today?
What should companies do when they’ve made a poor hiring decision?
Here's the truth: We’ve all been culture-killers in one form or another. We’ve all had our days, months, or years when we didn’t recognize how our behavior was negatively impacting others.
However, if the organization and company culture is hurting from the actions and behaviors of one or two bad apples, give your "culture-killers" an opportunity to get back in alignment with company values.
One way is through having regular, ongoing check-ins. A lot of companies rely on an annual review. However, a quarterly review is more efficient in realigning employees with company values.
If you find yourself in a situation where toxic employees continue having a negative impact on organizational culture, it might be time to let go of the employee in the name of healing your company culture.
What are your recommendations for managing company culture in a hybrid work landscape?
The days of physically reporting to an office every day of the workweek are not likely to resume once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. And 70% of employees said they will leave their job if the role doesn’t offer hybrid options.
In direct contrast, executives fear that company culture will not survive a hybrid of purely remote work model.
As a society, MaryBeth emphasizes that it’s not that big of a deal to shift work to nontraditional hours, as long as the work is completed well and on time.
Moreover, an organization's culture is not going to go away if people work remotely. A company's culture is not their office; it's how employees work together as an organization.
Instead of focusing on the hybrid work debate, management should figure out what is necessary for people to want to remain engaged. There is still great opportunity for productivity in a hybrid work situation, especially when employees feel heard.
All leaders who may be struggling with bringing teams back into the office should spend time with their teams to find out why team members don’t want to come back into the office. It’s critical for executives to ask and to listen before making assumptions about why people want or don’t want to go into the office. Otherwise, leaders are at risk of believing and reacting to made-up narratives.
In the end, executives need to make decisions in alignment with the company’s values, especially when it comes to huge decisions like hybrid vs. in-person work.
Executives also need to give their team members permission to be human by asking them what their needs are as humans, listening, and then responding to what you heard — because there’s nothing that destroys morale more than asking, listening, then doing nothing.
Learn more about MaryBeth Hyland:
» Work with MaryBeth’s company, SparkVision, where she helps small- to medium-sized organizations know, own, and live their shared values.
» Purchase MaryBeth Hyland’s new book, Permission to be Human, on Amazon. It’s a step-by-step guide on how to know, own, and live your values within your organization.