Company culture is a dynamic and complex topic. Every organization is a collection of individuals, each with their priorities, motivations, and goals that can shift from one day to the next. Getting timely input from your employees about company culture is a significant advantage as you work to implement changes.
Hosting a company culture Exchange is a great way to ensure that your culture-building efforts have grassroots support. An Exchange on culture can create an open and safe place for staff members to share their ideas about what’s working, what isn’t and the direction you need to go. That said, these conversations should be handled with care to make sure everyone involved is prepared to take meaningful action.
Here are a few things to consider:
Craft a killer question
The first thing to consider for a successful exchange is the question. It’s the key to generating as many ideas from as many points of view as possible. Think about the progress you want to make, your goals, and what perspectives you need to understand to get there. A good example question comes from Skagit Regional Health in Arlington, WA. They recently asked their staff:
What are some perspectives we need to understand as we work together to improve our culture at Skagit Regional Health?
This question invites all kinds of feedback and reinforces the idea that culture is something everyone in the organization has a hand in guiding.
Another useful approach is explicitly asking for the good and the bad with a question like this:
What are some important things you appreciate about the culture at [Organization’s Name] and what would you like to see change?
Acknowledging that there is always room for improvement can go a long way toward building trust in the process and creating a space for candid feedback. This leads us to our next tip:
Embrace all ideas
One way Thoughtexchange wins over a conventional survey is in generating diverse feedback. However, that can also be the most challenging part of working with your results. Before you run your exchange, it is critical to have conversations internally with those who could be impacted by the things you hear. Ensure everyone understands that you will hear some good things, and participants may also challenge you to improve in some areas. It is easiest to move forward constructively when people have had a chance to prepare for and embrace all forms of feedback.
Communicating with your participants in an honest way about your openness to take the good with the bad is also a way to build trust in the process. If they know you’re willing to accept constructive feedback and turn it into action, they'll appreciate the chance to share ideas even more.
Communication is key
The common thread through these tips is an emphasis on transparent communication. That starts with developing a complete and effective communications plan before you even launch your exchange.
Share information early about why you are reaching out, what feedback you hope to receive, and get people thinking about your company’s culture well in advance of asking them to share their thoughts. Get people excited about the process by sharing your vision for what their workplace could be. This will get participants thinking about the things that truly matter to them, and when you finally do share the link to your exchange, they’ll jump in with even greater enthusiasm.
Follow through on your communications plan with a good introduction that, again, underscores the importance of the conversation and of the individual you are asking for feedback. Consider including a background video to put a face on the exchange and make it even more engaging.
Putting it all together
A company culture Exchange can help participants feel like an essential part of the process and ensure that they can get behind the initiatives that follow.
Putting these tips into practice will help make your workplace the best it can be for you and your staff.
If you would like to learn more about creating a great culture exchange, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.