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May 21, 2024
April 16, 2024

Creating Culture Champions in Your Organization

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It's no secret that company culture is on the minds of most business leaders as they try to find success in this difficult economy. According to The Arbinger Institute, nearly half of company decision-makers believe company culture is the key to driving better performance across the board, and 90% of executives believe company culture is quickly becoming the most important driver of business success.

Building a strong, vibrant company culture is a big task. Because they're supposed to be a business's "people people," most HR teams make the mistake of shouldering the task all by themselves. This leaves HR professionals feeling burned out, tired, and often frustrated that the organization isn't seeing the cultural change they hope for.

The solution? Bring as many people alongside you in your culture-building efforts as you can. We call these people Culture Champions. These are people who love your company's mission and want to be in an amazing workplace just as much as you do. They are within your ranks already and can transform your workplace from "just okay" to "absolutely amazing." All they need is the right tools to do so.

Here are 3 simple steps you can take to create those Culture Champions:

Step 1: Identify the Enthusiasts

First, keep an eye out for enthusiasts within your organization. These are people who naturally radiate positivity, are actively engaged, and often spark conversations around the water cooler (or on Slack channels). 

These aren't necessarily the people with the loudest voices or the most charisma. Rather, they are the ones whose passion for your company's mission and values shines bright. Their enthusiasm is infectious, often leaving others feeling better about work just by being around them. Their natural inclination to connect with and engage with people makes them invaluable in your quest to improve culture.

Step 2: Inspire and Empower

Once you've identified your potential Champions, it's time to inspire them. Providing them with a vision of the positive impact they can have will do more to inspire them than anything else can. Help them recognize their innate talents and strengths and the value they bring to the table. Here are some ideas on how you can do that:

  • Provide training and resources. Be sure your Champions are never confused about how they can build culture. For example, do your Champions know how to recognize other employees for a job well-done? Do they know how they can give feedback to HR or Leadership if they have ideas to improve the workplace? Making sure Champions understand these things allows them to build your culture freely without getting stuck or confused.
  • Let Champions lead by example. Give your Culture Champions assignments, projects, etc., that will allow them to interact with people throughout the entire organization. Don’t let them stay hidden in a corner. This approach allows your Champion to learn more about how your organization works while also spreading their love of culture. It’s a win-win!
  • Connect Champions with senior leadership. Your Champions and senior leaders should frequently meet to discuss culture initiatives. Be sure engagement surveys, pulse surveys, internal networking events, etc. are always planned and held. These important channels ensure your Champions are heard and give your senior leadership team valuable insights into what is happening among your employees.

Step 3: Give Them a Platform

For Culture Champions to truly make an impact, they need a way to celebrate wins and highlight the great things happening in your organization, particularly if those wins reinforce what your company culture is all about.

Some of the most effective platforms enable Culture Champions to story-tell and elevate great performance. Here’s what that could look like:

  • On-the-spot recognition: A simple shoutout program employees can use at any time allows your Culture Champions to celebrate wins as soon as they see them. This can be done in a software solution or even on a Slack-created channel focused on culture (think something like #shoutouts or #celebrate).
  • Begin your meetings with recognition: Invite your people, especially your Champions, to begin every business meeting with recognition. Ask them, “Who did a great job this week?” or, “Who hit a home run that we should celebrate?” Your Champions will spring into action by not only highlighting great work they saw, but also inspiring others to be as dialed into your culture as they are.
  • Celebrate people in front of the company: If you have all-hands meetings or any other company-wide gathering, consider letting your Champions take the stage to share the positive things that are happening. Your Champions’ love of your mission and culture is infectious. Letting them storytell for everyone to hear will not only inspire others to act but also help them learn from their example.

Whatever your approach, the key is to give Culture Champions a voice and make sure they're heard. By doing so, you're not just amplifying their message; you're signaling to the rest of the organization that cultivating a positive culture is a shared responsibility. 

And the best part? Others will see those signals and want to be a part of it. Before you know it, your circle of Culture Champions will quickly expand to encompass all of, if not your entire, organization.

Conclusion

Creating Culture Champions is all about empowering your people to contribute. Trust that your people want a great place to work just as much as you do. By identifying your enthusiasts, providing a vision, and giving them a platform, you can build a culture that can propel your organization to new heights.