The COVID-19 pandemic has upended a lot of businesses. Very few companies are still operating as they were on January 1st. That drastic of a shift naturally created a lot of challenges, but it has also created some amazing opportunities. Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing with you what we see as the opportunities that organizations can take advantage of now in order to be prepared to take off when we eventually come out of all of this.
This week we’re taking a look at culture.
Chances are you’ve seen quite a few cracks in the foundation of your company over the past couple of months. If you haven’t been intentional about the culture of your company before now, you’re struggling to keep everyone on the same page. A crisis is the one time where a business’ culture will really be tested and we’ve seen a lot of great rises and quite a few great falls because of it.
Culture is what keeps a company together in times of stress. It’s what binds the team together. It’s made of many different component parts: core values, core purpose, core focus, etc. It’s an organization’s DNA, how they do work. If that hasn’t been clearly defined and everyone is not working from the same point of view and shared values, the distance created by the stay-at-home order has exacerbated what might have been only minor issues when you were working all together.
The good news is that you get a chance to try again. It is not easy to build culture from scratch and the larger a company grows it gets even harder to maintain. In the beginning stages of a company when they still only have a handful of employees, everyone approaches work the same way. They are all in contact with each other every day, rubbing elbows with the founder, and culture starts to spread by osmosis. As a company grows, that founder, and even those original employees, get farther and farther away from the front lines and that natural spreading of culture quickly dies out. And if you haven’t been paying attention to and nurturing your culture, you’ve ended up with a hodgepodge of values.
Take the time now to understand where your culture has broken down while you’ve had to work remotely. What parts of your culture are you still proud to claim? Which parts may have revealed an ugly side that you didn’t expect? Have your core values helped or hurt? Reflect on how your employees and managers have responded to this crisis. Is there anything you would change about their attitudes or their approaches? Now is the time to start defining the culture you want to build going forward.
I’m not saying it will be easy, but this crazy time has handed businesses a golden opportunity to be more intentional about the type of company that they want to be. Seize the opportunity and get started by downloading our easy to follow Core Values Exercise here.