The turn of a new year — in this case, a new decade — brings about the hope of change and beginnings. New year, new goals, new strategies, new ways to build community in our workplaces. Lots of “new,” but in reality, it’s building upon the foundation we have built over the past years.
The challenge is that we often categorize building a culture centered on meaning and purpose as a “nice to have” concept in the wave of “new” things we create for the coming year. The fact is, a purpose-driven culture is not a new thing — it already exists within your employees. In many ways, “purpose-driven culture” has become a catchphrase, but it’s really an attainable goal and the starting point for so many questions. What does it look like? What characteristics do employees that thrive in a purpose-driven culture have? What do we need to do to encourage a culture where our team members feel confident in being themselves and pursuing their own potential? When I think about a purpose-driven culture, I think about one word: flourishing. And it doesn’t start at an organizational level. It begins with the flourishing of the individuals that make up the most amazing workplaces in the next decade.
What does it mean to have a flourishing culture for your employees in the workplace? In his 2017 paper, “On the Promotion of Human Flourishing,” Tyler VanderWeele, a professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School, described flourishing “as a state in which all aspects of a person’s life are good.” He then categorized those aspects into core domains: happiness and life satisfaction, health (mental and physical), meaning and purpose, character and virtue, close social relationships, and financial and material stability. At ADURO, we believe that every person is capable of unlocking their potential when they have the right support. Ultimately, an individual could have great social relationships, feel a greater sense of purpose in their work, and be working on improving their finances, but still feel very satisfied with their life and overall happiness.
Think about what happens when one of your team members feels this way. You notice that things are going well for them, and you might wonder what their secret is. Now, think about what it would look like if all of your team members had a flourishing life. It would build a culture that prioritized resilience, creativity, and growth.
Culture is built by intentionally and consistently emphasizing those priorities. Here are three steps to creating an intentional culture that is flourishing.
1. Clearly define and live your mission.
Your organization’s mission is the most important thing to stay true to, you should treat it as your North Star. Every employee should embody your company’s mission and it starts with clearly understanding it. It is critical to define it clearly in the beginning and reference it often. There are several ways in which an organization can create and sustain a mission-driven culture. One of the key tools that every organization should operate from is Verne Harnish’s One-Page Strategic Plan (OPSP). It is a simple, yet powerful tool that allows for everyone in the company to know where they are going and what they need to do to get there. A few ways that we do this is through our annual OPSP that is at every employee’s desk; quarterly objectives and key results for the company, each department, and the individual employee; our company-wide meeting every Friday morning; our biannual VERVE week celebration at headquarters (where all remote employees are flown in). I even host quarterly company-wide “ask me anything” meetings where any question can be on the table.
2. See your people as people.
We believe that employees should be viewed as humans and not simply as objects of output. This means that organizations need to have a whole person approach when it comes to their employees and clients. It is key to hire the right person for the right purpose at the right time. Your employees are dynamic, complex individuals and sometimes life can be messy. Having compassion and understanding for the whole person and everything they show up with each day creates a culture with psychological safety and promotes both personal and professional development. We encourage our employees to work within their zone of genius (what lights them up) while encouraging them to push themselves just outside of their own comfort zones in order to grow and meet the dreams they have.
When the goals and mission are clearly outlined for everyone, collectively the organization is able to find the joy of striving to find potential in their colleagues, themselves, and our clients.
3. Coaching as a culture.
In The Culture Solution, Matthew Kelly outlines how to scale a business by growing employees at every level and teaching how to build a coaching culture while deemphasizing managers. In creating a coaching culture, leadership is actively looking for moments of coaching and development inside of the work on a regular basis that allows for individuals to grow and continue to strive to be better versions of themselves. A coaching culture is consistently evolving and is something that an organization must be mindful in developing and it should align with the organization’s mission and values. Management should emphasize training, regular feedback, and encourage opportunities for growth.
When we think of managers as coaches, they should lead by example and embody these five traits: relationship builder, active listener, resilient, coachable, and fueled by growth and development.
In the process of listening and identifying patterns, and being able to interrupt those patterns, the goal of a coach and the skill that we’re developing is the coach’s ability to support the individual through powerful questioning that elicits new thinking.
Simply put, when you’re intentional and diligent about defining and sustaining your organization’s culture your employees are more resilient and happier. Flourishing creates workplaces where people want to be, and employees within those workplaces who are energized, engaged, and want to grow. At the end of the day, a flourishing culture is not a nice to have, it’s a must have — and it’s something that you can start right now. What steps are you taking at your company to create a flourishing culture?