Craft An Intentionally Contagious Company Culture

February 2, 2016

You killed it last year—in either a really great way, or maybe not so greatand you’ve devoted this next year to being even better, badder, and more awesome than ever. Your people are great, your clients are fantastic, and you’re all humming along (or maybe not, and that’s okay). You have your goals set, life is good, and in the beginning of the year it’s all about unicorns and daisies (or maybe not, and that’s okay).

No matter what you do this year, you want to up-level, right? If so, you’re going to have to pay a little more attention to a couple of things. Ready?

  • You: how you show up.
  • Your leadership: how you make your fabulous people feel.
  • Your results: how much impact you make happen.
  • Your culture: how everyone feels, shows up, makes stuff happen, and basically spreads the disease of either “we’re awesome, we love you, and we’re so happy to be here,” or “we suck, you suck, it’s hard, we all have jobs and can’t wait to clock out.”

The beauty of all four of these areas? You have a ton of control. They are totally your call.

What’s your call?

Since your company culture is going to affect you, your team, your clients, and pretty much everything—because you are swimming in it—let’s start there.

Your Company Culture Is…You!

First, the great thing to know is that, while culture affects everything, you affect culture—so it’s all good.

You are the culture of your company.

Most people think that in order to create a great culture, they need to do fancy initiatives, buy lunch, get foosball tables, craft core values, bring in some karaoke, (insert your thing here). All of these are awesome.

But you can do all of these things and still have a crappy culture.

You can do the great things, but if people don’t feel good working there, no amount of “stuff” will make up for that. You want people to feel—really feel—good, and to be a part of your culture in a way that they own, they’re accountable for, and they’re a part of creating and being in.

So what to do?

How to Create a Contagious Culture

First things first. As leader (whether you are the CEO or the janitor), you must simply show up. How you show up—your intentions, your energy, and your presence; your mindset, your attitude, and your vibe—are all contagious. You set the tone.

You’ve seen these examples, I’m sure:

  • You’re in a meeting, and someone walks in, and the whole tone of the meeting changes.
  • You see someone on your calendar invite that’s going to be in the meeting and you feel instantly delighted and bold.
  • You’re giving a presentation and there’s the guy on your right in the front row that seems devoted to dragging the room down with his energy and presence.
  • You’re in a conversation that you’re excited about and your partner isn’t present, you feel the wind blow out of your sails (and sales).

In all of these scenarios, you’re experiencing contagions. You’re experiencing other people’s intentions, energy, presence, and how you interact with each of them.

The higher up in the organization you are, the louder your “vibe,” and the greater your impact becomes—after all, people are looking to you. That said, if you’re at the bottom of the organizational chart or you’re not in an official leadership role at all, you, my friend, are still setting the tone. You have impact and the ability to influence and shift culture. You still have to show up. Because you, too, are the culture.

Simply put, we must all Show Up.

So, how do you craft an intentionally awesome culture?

Intentionally Crafting an Awesome Company Culture

Yes, you show up. Okay, we’ve got that one covered. (You can access a ton of information on how to do that in my book, Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives (McGraw-Hill, 2015), on my blog, in tons of other articles, interviews, etc.) There is no lack of content or tools to support you personally showing up more powerfully as a leader. Okay, good, that’s done.

So let’s take it up a level and look at it culturally. Let’s craft an intentional culture together.

Here are some questions you can ask and play with. We’re going to do this now, and you can answer the questions for yourself. Then you can do this with your own team later. When you do this with your own team, pick the ones—as a team—that resonate most. And feel free to make up your own.

  • What is the culture that we currently have? How would we describe it? What’s the current state? Is it more positive or negative?
  • What is the culture we want to have?
  • What do we want to be known for in our culture?
  • If we could do three things right now to start making those words a reality, what would they be?
  • How do we want to feel when we’re at work?
  • How do we want our employees to talk about our organization and culture outside the office?
  • What do we want our clients to witness as they work with us in how we collaborate, communicate, our vibe, etc.?
  • How do we want our clients to feel?
  • What can we do to better support our environment so that our people are set up for the best success—energetically, physically, emotionally?
  • What kind of agreements do we want to have as an organization about how we engage, give feedback, agree/disagree, hold meetings, handle conflict, make decisions, etc.?
  • What are our organizational values?
  • What is our purpose? Where are we going? What’s our vision?
  • Does everyone in the company know our values and purpose and vision? Can they all communicate it? Do they believe in it?
  • How connected is our leadership team? What are we modeling in terms of how we show up with each other? Safety? Communication? Risk taking? etc.
  • If we were to win a “best places to work” award, what would our differentiator be? What would we want it to be?

Once your leadership team has chosen and discussed these questions, get feedback from others in the company, see if you guys are in alignment, and then get into action.

With everyone in the company showing up with positive, solid intention and good energy and presence, you are very well on your way. When you get a collaborative intention around what you want your culture to look and feel like, you’re on your way home.

Hop to. Happy crafting!

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