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Double Down on Culture

In the last webinar of our Crisis to Momentum series, we discussed how organizations and leaders have had to pivot quickly – changing their business models, ways of working, and leading styles overnight – all in the context of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. Next up, we will discuss where cultures are shining and how cultures will need to strengthen as we enter into the future of work.

In this quick webinar we discuss:

  • New ways of working and behaviors needed to succeed
  • The cultural attributes to keep or discard moving forward
  • How to rebuild your culture for future success


This transcript was automatically generated with artificial intelligence. It’s in the queue to go through a review with human eyes!

00:00:00:00 – 00:01:28:11

Hello and welcome, everybody. We are going to get started in just a couple of minutes. If you’re just joining. Welcome. We are going to get started in just about a minute. We’re letting some more people log in.

00:01:28:13 – 00:01:57:12

Okay. I think we could get started. So thank you so much for joining today. I just want to quickly recap where we’ve been, where we’re going in our Crisis two momentum series. A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a webinar on Rethinking the Future of Work. Today we are going to get into doubling down on culture. And then in the coming weeks, we are going to start to talk about these three other areas of focus assessing, prioritize, invest in leaders and build trust every single day.

00:01:57:12 – 00:02:18:11

Some more information to come on those. But for now, I want to introduce our culture experts today. We have Kate MacPherson, who is a principal and creative director here at Daggerwing Group. And we have Tiana Ritchell, who is a managing consultant here at Daggerwing Group. So with that, I’ll turn it over to Kate and Lauren. Hi, everybody, and welcome.

00:02:18:11 – 00:02:39:05

Thanks for joining today. So if you don’t know degree, we wanted to share just a tiny bit about ourselves and then we’ll dive into the topic at hand. So we are rated top ten as a change management consultancy firm globally, and we’re number one in change strategy. And that isn’t because of our size. We’re definitely a small but mighty team, but because of our ability to impact client business.

00:02:39:07 – 00:03:00:08

So what we do really is we focus on the human side of change for just about any business transformation you can think of. And we’re a very super practical and hands on team and we love making change happen and we love it even more when we make change happen and make it stick. So that’s always our priority and our passion.

00:03:00:10 – 00:03:23:17

So before the slide, we wanted to just give everyone a little bit of a baseline definition of how we view culture. Before we dig into the heart of our session today. So for us, culture is often what we call the silent set of values and expectations of a company. It’s embodied in the habits that we exhibit or the actions that we take.

00:03:23:19 – 00:03:51:03

And most typically, you see it in the way people treat each other and operate sort of at work and also with partners or customers or clients, depending on what type of organization you’re in. And to just further, you know, just put a little bit of context around that. If we flip to the next slide, what you’ll see is a little bit of an ecosystem of what a company looks like.

00:03:51:05 – 00:04:20:11

So on the left hand upper side, you’ll see business strategy really defines the what you do purpose, defines why you do it. And the cultural piece, the culture defines how you do it. So for us, that’s kind of how we how we look at this. So just wanted to give a little preface there. So for today, you know, Tiana and I’ve been tackling culture work for companies for actually well over a year at this point together.

00:04:20:13 – 00:04:43:16

But as we entered into 2020, the landscape became much more volatile for obvious reasons. And, you know, overall culture has just become quite a hot topic as companies have been shaken and in crisis mode. And we’re just seeing how they’re handling these big shifts and how they align to their cultures or how they don’t align to their cultures.

00:04:43:18 – 00:05:14:12

So we’ll get into details momentarily. But we wanted to frame our conversation today around three different questions that are shown here. One, where did your existing fail culture fail you? The second around really the strengths of our culture and company that are almost superhero and quality. And then also thirdly, we want to definitely cover looking ahead where you should focus your energy, especially as it relates to culture.

00:05:14:14 – 00:05:40:09

So I’ll let Tiana take the question of where where did your existing culture fail you? And also did you learn new ways of working and behaving to succeed? So Tiana, over to you. Kate So, yeah, this is the first question that are encouraging everyone to start asking themselves during this time. So since the start of COVID 19 and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, culture hasn’t really been put to the test.

00:05:40:09 – 00:06:07:10

And unfortunately for many companies, this has led to the discovery of cultural shortcomings or even failures and a real need to take a step back and readjust and assess how are working, how are we behaving and what’s and you know, what are we fostering in our zation. So we are the next slide. And for some organizations we’ve seen these cultural shortcomings happen because they just weren’t set up for adaptability.

00:06:07:12 – 00:06:30:03

So if you see the site on the left hand side of the screen, a recent study by Gartner found that 55% of organizational redesigns were centered around streamlining or creating efficiencies. And this is great theory. However, why it’s often done at the expense of flexibility, which is what employees are really craving, which is what you see on the right hand side of the sites.

00:06:30:03 – 00:06:55:01

So 96% of employees say they need flexibility in their orders from their organization, yet less than half actually feel like they get. And so when COVID 19 hit, we saw so many organizations struggle to adjust and taking longer than they probably would have liked, figure out the new ways of working and the new normal, as we’ve seen that called, because they just weren’t built to do that.

00:06:55:03 – 00:07:19:07

We’ve also seen this come up in companies when they they’ve been built around. Things have always been done this way. They’ve been built around a mentality of, you know, we do it this way and this way only. And this is just another way in which employees flexibility has been restricted or limited, and a company’s resilience is really at risk.

00:07:19:09 – 00:07:47:05

In a recent Forbes article that Kate and I were talking about, it said that 50 years ago, a company’s life expectancy or lifespan is that 75 years? Today, it’s less than 50. And so that makes it even more critical for companies to constantly look ahead to figure out how they can evolve over time, how they can be resilient, how they can adjust, rather than relying on how they’ve historically operated or historically done things.

00:07:47:07 – 00:08:11:21

One of our current clients is actually a really great example of that, of taking a step back and making the change going forward. So they have a strong culture really built on in-person interaction and in-person connections, and it’s really worked well for them over many, many years. But when COVID 19 and shelter in place orders went into effect, they really struggled to maintain that same culture virtually.

00:08:11:23 – 00:08:37:24

And so they realized, okay, let’s take a step back. Let’s reflect on how we’ve always done things and figure out how to adjust going forward. And this led to them rethinking how they’re communicating with employees, what platforms and technology they’re investing in to create collaboration virtually. And even thinking about how their work from home and flexibility policies might change going forward so that they’re set up for success and they can be resilient in the future.

00:08:38:00 – 00:09:11:11

So those are a couple of examples and things to think about with COVID 19. If we go to the next slide, we’ve also seen cultural shortcomings happen in their response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the case of Starbucks, which I’m sure we all have heard about, or know at least a little bit of, they released a public statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement while simultaneously sending an internal memo memo that stated employees can’t wear anything that said Black Lives Matter.

00:09:11:11 – 00:09:36:06

And so, you know, the memo was really meant to reinforce their existing policy and procedures that prohibited any political or personal clothing. And the purpose of the policy was always to limit any divisiveness in the workplace. But you’ll see that what they ended up doing and what they said was totally different. And so it created a lot of backlash and eventually they rehearsed it.

00:09:36:07 – 00:10:08:00

But what we see here and the takeaway is that Starbucks policies and procedures which really should emulate and reinforce and reflect their culture, created that same do discrepancy, that gap and what they were saying publicly and then what they were doing internally. We’ve seen this same story play out in a couple of companies. Whole Foods, for example, in Cambridge, who sent seven employees home for wearing Black Lives Matter masks for a company that is said to be very values based.

00:10:08:02 – 00:10:32:08

They also received a lot of backlash. And so, unsurprisingly, both of these stories and several other others have gained a lot of negative public attention. And so what we’re taking away from this is that now more than ever, consumers and employees are really looking at organizations and making sure that what they’re saying is mimicking how they’re showing that and they’re doing what they’re claiming to know.

00:10:32:10 – 00:10:52:09

And so those that aren’t willing to reexamine their cultures, to understand where they’re coming up short, where they need to adjust, and also figure out what are their cultural strengths that are going to help them get their so they can lean into it. And that actually is a good transition to our second question, which is going to cover things.

00:10:52:10 – 00:11:19:21

Tiana Yeah, and you know, in terms of kind of the flip side of what you just covered, you know, we are seeing organizations showcasing almost superhero qualities that have left us wondering how have they done that or how are they doing it? You know, these companies are really showing up resilient, agile and focused, and they’re doing these admirable thing, admirable things, even in the midst of experiencing whiplash change.

00:11:19:23 – 00:11:43:24

So if we look to the next slide, you know, for as much turmoil that is churning out in the world right now, there are many companies who are rising up to the occasion, and they’re bringing humanity to work in both existing ways that they probably have always shown up as. But we’re seeing it much more prevalently, especially as it hits news or, you know, just in our experience, based on the work we do at growing.

00:11:44:01 – 00:12:09:16

But some of the things I wanted to specifically mention is, you know, we have people who are frontline workers, you know, people in the medical community who may not have seen themselves or had to be what you would call frontline workers or even people who are delivery drivers. You know, we’re seeing people assisting and companies assisting the medical community to accelerate, you know, vaccines for COVID 19.

00:12:09:18 – 00:12:33:05

We’re also seeing companies that are focusing now on making sincere strides, and I do say sincere strides in their own diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, because they have had shortcomings in the past or they haven’t been as focused on them. And and now they are. And now they’re realizing, wow, we really need to make make these strides now and seize the moment.

00:12:33:07 – 00:12:52:12

So hopefully you’re, you know, out there feeling like you’re part of organizations that are flexing some good muscle in these positive areas. And if you aren’t and you’re sort of feeling like you’re looking around and, you know, you might be wondering, well, how can we do it better? What could we do? So we’ll tackle that in a second.

00:12:52:14 – 00:13:11:22

And you really you know, we’ve just looked out to so many companies that are inspiring in these moments. And we we’ve put up the Starbucks. Kevin Johnson quote here on purpose, you know, because I want to mention that, you know, at the end of the day, nobody’s perfect, no company is perfect and no person is perfect. And that’s okay.

00:13:11:22 – 00:13:33:19

And I think we as humans need to be okay about there are going to be mess ups and there will be backlash for companies, companies like Starbucks and so many other companies that have failed. And you know, it it wasn’t marble that Kevin Johnson, you know, he had it. Hey we we’ve had short come in Cummings and our values are being tested.

00:13:33:21 – 00:13:57:13

But I think in terms of seeing the companies and the heads of companies messing up or failing, you know, then they’re deciding how do they move forward and how do they make it right. So we’re seeing a lot of a lot of that in a lot of different areas. So what we wanted to focus on next is really taking a look at some of the trends and the macro effects that we’re seeing in three main categories.

00:13:57:15 – 00:14:27:20

So the first being and crisis leadership, and this is really fine points between crisis leadership over crisis management, and this is really around lessening the negative impacts on employees. So kind of underneath here, it’s focusing on human relations. You know, obviously there are so many things impacting people in all sorts of new ways. And then it kind of in the big picture, the walls of work and life have just been torn down, whether we like it or not.

00:14:27:22 – 00:14:54:04

And we’re seeing companies are just taking care of their employees in new ways. Secondly, you know, emphasizing collaboration with heightened communication and with quality communication. So in the face of more dispersed workforce, you know, they’re are working home versus being physically together. You know, it’s been incredibly important to make sure that communication is regular and that that’s consistent.

00:14:54:06 – 00:15:20:01

And something that I wanted to mention, which has been really interesting and really I think positive is that there’s companies out there being so transparent in their communications. You know, typically when there’s CEOs sharing employee comms, it’s on the inside and it’s being shared on internal channels. But now what we’re really seeing is, you know, again, this tearing down the walls between the inside and the outside.

00:15:20:01 – 00:15:49:12

And CEOs are sharing their, you know, their messages to employees, but on their external social channels and on their own digital properties and I think it’s just a wonderful showcase to say, here’s what we’re doing culturally and here’s what we believe in and here’s how we’re treating our employees. And everyone can see it. And then, you know, in terms of crisis leadership, exhibiting positive attitude and being able to reassure a team is is an incredibly important in these moments.

00:15:49:12 – 00:16:12:05

So being able to settle the nerves in the face of uncertainty, to calm people and to provide a sense of stability, you know, because unfortunately, in times of especially rapid change that we’ve experienced, you know, it’s about being able to help avoid people swirling around and losing what I would call all focus, because in these times you’re going to lose focus.

00:16:12:05 – 00:16:35:12

That’s just a fact. But it’s it’s avoiding losing all focus. And then in that second bucket there, you know, there’s so many companies that are showing up being a force for good and really being able to find new opportunities to be that force for good and focusing on that, even if they were doing it before, they’re able to do it in new ways.

00:16:35:14 – 00:17:10:12

So companies, you know, a client of ours is prioritizing social impact in new ways. You know, they’ve donated $5 million to vulnerable children who are at risk. For me meals and not being able to eat. They’ve also donated 5 million to manufacture, to donate to partners like Feeding America and, you know, also just in terms of companies that have big manufacturing plants, a lot of their corporate employees are going out to the plants and actually lending a hand, even though that’s not typically what they would do.

00:17:10:12 – 00:17:39:18

But they’re, again, helping each other out in ways that they might not have before. And that helps with overwork with people who are out due to illness or long longer term illness, which is is incredibly impactful. And then, you know, definitely this idea of pivoting business offerings to meet their needs and being a force for good. So, for example, GE increased ventilation production really rapidly and made protective face shields to extend the life of 95 masks.

00:17:39:20 – 00:18:03:04

So, you know, you’re seeing retailers and other businesses following suits for, you know, personal protection for the public and really just pivoting and shifting to help meet the needs of a changing environment and changing consumer needs. I think we could probably have a whole session actually on this topic, but I’m going to keep going. The last one is really covering this idea of responsiveness and agility.

00:18:03:06 – 00:18:29:10

Now more than ever, time is so precious, especially as the walls of working life are sort of one and the same for many of us. And rapid decision making quickly became a hot topic for companies. So one of our clients actually moved from what they called a consensus, more of a consensus consensus type culture with lots of long meetings to short type meetings to increase decision making.

00:18:29:12 – 00:18:51:21

Lots of other companies that are switching to shorten their team meetings, you know, instead of 30 minute meetings or saving 5 minutes again, just to give people breaks because, you know, zoom fatigue, I’m sure your brand, it’s a real thing and people get quite tired being virtual and sitting in front of a screen all the time. So, you know, I think that a lot of these things have been incredibly important.

00:18:51:23 – 00:19:12:11

You know, other companies have recognized that, you know, a new normal is needed and safety is the top priority. So companies are now doing the work from home forever or allowing permanent transitions from work to working in an office to working remotely. And it’s just allowing a whole new crop of potential talent to join the ranks from anywhere in the world.

00:19:12:11 – 00:19:44:09

So we’re seeing a lot of very quick, rapid movement there. And then we wanted to switch and pivot because I think another really big meaty part of what we’ve started to uncover is that the underlying thread here of all this superhero strength that we’re sort of seeing is this underlying quality of empathy. And, you know, there’s part of the superhuman superhero qualities that we have to question is obviously the sustainability factor here, because as we probably all personally experienced is and can be very draining.

00:19:44:11 – 00:20:07:03

But I think the question here is, you know, can leaders and organizations kind of lead hot with empathy for the long haul? You know, so long empathy has been seen as a soft and sort of more feminine skill in business. But now empathy is a form of like a cultural fuel almost. And it’s helping shift how businesses do work and act.

00:20:07:05 – 00:20:42:19

And while it isn’t renewable resource, for sure, we have to acknowledge that acting with empathy and what I would call crisis empathy is not sustainable for long term crisis response. And, you know, it’s specifically hitting leadership at companies quite hard. So if we flip to the next slide, you’ll see that empathetic leaders in particular are reporting triple levels of poor mental health and they are at risk for a term and phenomenon we call that is called compassion fatigue, which is very similar to burnout.

00:20:42:21 – 00:21:10:03

And the micro effects here that we’re seeing is that companies are recognizing the stress and recognizing this fatigue, and they are responding by changing wellness and flex work policies pretty swiftly, which is wonderful. But the watch out for us is, you know, we really need to equip leaders with tools and new tools to cope with empathy required during this time, because it’s really uncertain how long of a duration that we’re going to be looking at.

00:21:10:05 – 00:21:32:21

And if we flip, we did you and I’ll cover this too, very quickly just so we get to the rest of our discussion. But psychological distress is definitely hitting a disproportionate rate specific physically, people of color, mothers and women. And although it has come down in the recent months, we don’t have yet a crystal ball to know if it’s going to rise and fall again.

00:21:32:23 – 00:22:01:12

So just, you know, we need to be realistic. We need to help manage these expectations because there is empathy overload happening in organizations across the world. So, you know, in terms of this is obviously an energy piece and I definitely have been reflecting on this a lot, But I want to toss it back to Tiana now because I think we should definitely talk about, you know, obviously empathy is an energy that’s going to be playing a part in the future of work.

00:22:01:12 – 00:22:28:06

But let’s look ahead to other factors that we should consider. Yeah, absolutely. So like he alluded to the way we’re working is just not sustainable. The empathy we’re giving out, the productivity to really jump back, it’s just not going to last. And so as leaders are facing compassion fatigue and employees are burning out, it’s taking a toll on their productivity and their mental health.

00:22:28:08 – 00:22:51:12

We found a stat that showed that in March alone, a mental health crisis hotline saw a 900% spike in calls compared to March of last year. So, you know, that to us says needs to be addressed now because it’s clear that we’re not going back to normal if we ever go back to normal anytime soon. And so we need a sustainable way to move forward.

00:22:51:12 – 00:23:11:04

And so that leads us to our final question of as we look ahead, energy, what do we do next? So if we go to the next slide, Kate and I, we’re talking and what we believe is that companies just need to double down and create a culture that supports their leaders and their employees to navigate through this new norm.

00:23:11:06 – 00:23:34:11

And so we reflected on some of the recent work we’ve been doing and put together four tips or best practices that we can all think about as we invest in our culture going forward. And so the first one is the authentic and transparent. And so what we believe is this is a really unique opportunity for leaders and managers to connect with their teams in a way they just haven’t done before.

00:23:34:13 – 00:23:57:19

And it all starts with being authentic. And so for some of our clients, this has been some as simple as showing up to video and t shirts in their workout gear just so human and so authentically themselves rather than buttoned up like you might see in an office setting. And I just want to mention that this is the first time I’ve put on a work workshop in quite some time.

00:23:57:19 – 00:24:25:23

So in terms of being really transparent, it’s definitely stuff that we are experiencing in our own work lives to a darker wing. Absolutely. The other thing that we’ve seen companies and employees doing as well is really just accepting the chaos that might be going on in the background and knowing that that’s just the environment right now. We might have pets pop up in between our meetings and have children come in and take part.

00:24:25:23 – 00:24:47:08

And what we’re seeing is people aren’t apologizing for that. You know, things are the environment is what it is, and we just need to go with it and let it happen. And so we’ve seen this really taps into that that human connection. And it’s what makes us all human. It’s what connects us, and it creates that stronger culture in the long run.

00:24:47:10 – 00:25:08:03

The second thing leads to a little bit of what Kate was chatting about in the last question. It’s all about putting leaders at the helm. And we’ve seen and we’ve always seen that leaders can make or break a culture, especially those mid-level leaders who are connection to those frontline employees. And in times of crisis, their roles are even more important.

00:25:08:07 – 00:25:31:12

And so we know that employees require strong leaders, empathize with them, who can guide them, who that in place can lean on. But it’s a company’s responsibility to make sure that those leaders have the resources they need. They have the training they need so they can continue leading and doing so without burning out or getting compassion. T Yeah, yeah.

00:25:31:12 – 00:25:50:08

I think we talked a lot about sort of the the ecosystem of, you know, if you’re putting leaders at the helm to take care of their teams, then, you know, the company does really need to shine a brighter light on how to take care of those leaders and in new ways which we had covered earlier. Exactly. The third tip here.

00:25:50:08 – 00:26:16:24

So create a virtual community. And the word virtual is really important here because we all or many of us have really strong in person communities, but it hasn’t always translated when we’ve gone remote. And so while employees have proven that they can be productive from home, they’re sometimes that sense of connection missing and so, you know, we no longer have those chance encounters running into someone at the cafe or in the hallway or on the way to a meeting.

00:26:17:01 – 00:26:40:19

And so companies have had to really invest in creating those connections in a way that’s not as organic as it used to be and building that virtual workplace. And so we’ve seen some companies invest in platforms like workplace or teams to create that collaboration, that space to connect, and others have replaced, you know, in-person happy hours for virtual happy hours.

00:26:40:19 – 00:27:07:18

So there’s still that informal place to get together. And one of our clients has even started doing Zoom based town halls where they have doctors come in and give coronavirus and health updates, and they have weekly homeschooling seminars for parents. And so they’re really leaning into everything that’s happening in the Ironman, providing a space for employees to come and ask questions and learn and connect in this virtual community.

00:27:07:20 – 00:27:31:21

And so we recognize that this is definitely an adjustment, but it also unlocks an opportunity to be even more inclusive than we have before, because you’re not bound by what office you sit in or what team you work on. Everyone can take part of these virtual connections, and so it’ll really help extend that office culture into the home culture.

00:27:31:23 – 00:27:53:06

And then the last tip we have here is focusing on the right behaviors. And so employees only have so much time and energy and headspace. And so we don’t really help them focus on the behaviors that are going to bring our values to life. It’s going to reinforce those norms that we want to and discourage the ones that we don’t want.

00:27:53:08 – 00:28:20:14

And in some cases, this means pivoting and emphasizing behaviors that you might not have previously emphasized. And that’s okay. We just need to make sure that we’re really clear to employees what they should be doing and where they should be putting their energy. And we’ve seen some of our clients make these shifts as well. One of our clients we worked with about a year ago and helped them define what their culture is, what are their beliefs and their behaviors, and how do they want to show up.

00:28:20:16 – 00:28:43:19

And at that time we had a couple of different beliefs and behaviors centered around being a force for good, which Kate talked about, and inclusivity, but they’re already doing well there. And so we actually shifted the focus to be more about innovation because that’s what they needed at that time. But recently they’ve actually reset and they said to their employees, they’ve said publicly, we’re shifting our focus.

00:28:43:19 – 00:29:09:03

We’re we’re making progress. We’re putting our efforts into diversity, inclusion and to being a force for good. And this was a really clear signal change for employees to help them know where they should put their efforts and what behaviors they should be modeling. So that’s our fourth tip. And with just a minute or so left, I’ll toss it back to Kate now.

00:29:09:05 – 00:29:29:23

Well, we we certainly are passionate and excited to talk about a lot of these topics. We could probably go on for another hour and a half, but hopefully you gain some good insights and hopefully some good tips as we went along. So know, just wanted to recap. So three questions. Open it up to see if anyone has any questions that they want to ask.

00:29:29:23 – 00:30:03:06

Now before we flip it back to Lauren, to close it up. So if you have any questions, you can insert them into the Q&A box. But if not, I know we’re out of time. I just want to quickly emphasize that in two weeks, please come back and join us as we continue our Crisis two momentum series. The next one is going to be about assess and prioritize.

00:30:03:08 – 00:30:30:11

And if you have any questions that come in afterwards, here are Kate and Tiana’s e mail, so feel free to send them a note. Yes, and I do see some questions coming in and we might, since we’re at time, be able to address those individuals out separately. Yeah. Great. Well, thank you so much for joining everybody. Have a great day.

00:30:30:13 – 00:30:51:07

Thank you.

About the presenters

Headshot of Kate MacPherson
Kate MacPherson
Principal, Creative Director

Kate is an award-winning Creative Director at Daggerwing Group. She has over 13 years of experience in the creative industry and consulting combined. Kate blends her wide experience at Daggerwing, bringing creative planning, strategy, and execution to the group. She is passionate about delivering positive results through effective and breakthrough branding work in the space of internal communications and employee experience.​ She loves a good business challenge and working with teams to crack culture, branding, and transformation challenges.

Headshot of Tiana Ritchell
Tiana Ritchell
Managing Consultant

Tiana Ritchell is a Managing Consultant at Daggerwing Group. Her past experience in Human Resources and Organizational Development gives her unique insight into the human element of strategic communications and change management. She is passionate about helping companies drive cultural transformation in a way that delivers results, while speaking to employees and meeting them where they are.