What is it and why is it important?
Whether we’re working on a brand positioning or an employer brand positioning, people behaviours are critical in representing the brand, shaping the culture, ensuring it’s a great place to work and driving the business.
It’s the way people behave that ensures consistent delivery against the promise we make to customers, employees and stakeholders.
If you want to be perceived as a friendly, open and approachable brand and a great place to buy, then you want your people to be friendly, open and approachable to customers, fellow employees, investors, suppliers and communities. If you want to be perceived as a friendly, open and approachable employer brand and great place to work, then your leaders, people, policies and communications need to be friendly, open and approachable.
Particularly for front-line employees, behaviours are the brand and they can become part of your identity that people expect from you – like the Virgin airline employees welcome, the McDonald’s “would you like fries with that” or the famed Metro train driver updates.
There is a famous saying “Culture is values in action”. We think of this as “Culture = values translated to behaviours”. In effect, defining the behaviours that will shape the culture, whilst acknowledging that once in action, culture shapes behaviours.
How we go about it
To develop behaviours, we start with values. We will develop 3-5 behaviours per value for all employees and determine whether there are additional behaviours required of leaders and in different areas of the business. This can be conducted as workshops, templates for individuals in your business to fill in their own time and/or our own strategy development.
In “Thrive by Design: The Neuroscience that drives high-performance cultures”, Don Rheem states that “culture is the felt experience of the people within the organisation. The way people feel determines how they behave”.
To define the culture, we translate values to behaviours, and we consider what it feels like to work at your organisation. This exercise can be done for both current and future states, identifying the feelings and behaviours associated with your organisation now versus in the future.
The future state needs to take into consideration the brand, the business strategy and the people strategy – in particular, the type of people you’re trying to attract and retain to drive your business and brand strategy.
Within this context, we will also look at how people lead.
The other aspects we look at are psychological safety, diversity, wellbeing and sustainability.
Don Rheem talks about how safe you feel and how well you feel you belong in an organisation impacts your behaviour. Gallup talks about meaningful moments of vulnerability that either build or break company culture. There are five or six different moments that give a good indication of your company culture – such as when you propose a new idea or when you ask for help.
When it comes to diversity, Adam Grant in “Originals: How non-conformists change the world” talks about commitment firms, those whose employees are aligned to the purpose and values, not being great at diversity, despite good intentions, because they attract like-minded people. It is key to think about cultural contribution and not just cultural fit when defining the culture. You want a culture. Not a cult.
Last, but not least, wellbeing and sustainability. Over the last few years, organisations have finally caught onto the benefits of looking after your employees’ wellbeing not just for increasing productivity and reducing the cost of absenteeism but for attraction, retention and engagement of the right employees for your organisation and designing an environment more conducive to collaboration, creativity and innovation.
Increasingly, the broader definition of sustainability is finding its way into the heart of culture. Your people’s values, behaviours norms and beliefs towards the impact of what they do and what your organisation does as a whole – on humans, the environment and prosperity, or people, planet and profit. And your leaders role modelling the desired behaviours, driving and empowering the action needed for your organisation to meet its sustainability vision and goals (whether ESG or SDGs).
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Please contact us to discuss further what we can do for you.