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Do You Need a “Culture Chief?”

Recognize This! – Culture chiefs play a role in setting the tone, but every employee is responsible for owning your culture.

I’ve just wrapped up a busy week of international travel, meetings and workshops. Thankfully, I work with a strong group of consultants who helped out. But this isn’t surprising. This is part of the culture of Globoforce - determination and respect (for urgency and teamwork) are two of our core values that underpin our culture. My co-workers lived those values this past week, making it possible for all of us to excel.

Our ongoing “How to Build Your Winning Culture of Recognition” workshops (based on our book) was one of the items on my list last week. A central point of the workshop is how to create a true culture of recognition, not another recognition program.

What’s the difference? A program is often owned by HR. A culture is owned by – and is the responsibility of – every employee.

I firmly believe this to be true. Empowering every employee to own your culture of recognition is at the heart of increased employee engagement, productivity, performance, retention, and ultimately, bottom-line results. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need a leader.

Software Advice HR Analyst Jennifer King put it this way in a recent article:

“While some people think every company needs a culture chief, others argue that culture–defined as a ‘set of shared values, behaviors, and norms’–should fall on everyone within an organization, not just one person. Either way, it starts at the executive level.

“Tim Delbrugge, Chief Administrative Officer for Welocalize, recently added culture to his long list of HR responsibilities. After joining Welocalize in 2009, he quickly picked up on some of the unhealthier aspects of the organization in terms of company politics and the lack of transparency.

“‘I started pushing executives to accept and practice the culture they wanted,’ Delbrugge told me. ‘It’s one thing to have a culture chief for window dressing, but you have to have buy-in from everyone, and the key to that is the CEO. Our CEO has made culture one of our key objectives as an organization.’”

As the company’s first culture chief, Delbrugge is tasked with incorporating the organization’s values into every aspect of onboarding, talent development and employment branding. Measuring the success of such broad goals is a challenge for Delbrugge and anyone in charge of ‘culture.’”

Jennifer points to several core tenets in this description from Mr. Delbrugge.

  1. Everyone is responsible for owning and living the desired culture
  2. Executives are the key to universal buy-in
  3. Someone at a very senior level must be responsible for integrating programs to support the desired culture, including measurement and reporting on success in terms that matter to the C-suite.

The workshops will continue in the Fall, with a London workshop scheduled for mid-September and two more in October in Washington, DC, and Orange County, CA. I’ll be giving more information on registration information in the coming months and I look forward to meeting any of you there.

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6 Responses

  1. [...] concerned when I see articles like this one that focus on adding an executive-level position of culture chief. Done right, this can be a powerful role to marshal resources, but it also runs the risk of [...]

  2. [...] organizations should work to create a culture of recognition and mutual respect in which employees want to be at work to help each other when they are well. [...]

  3. [...] organizations should work to create a culture of recognition and mutual respect in which employees want to be at work to help each other when they are well. [...]

  4. [...] organizations should work to create a culture of recognition and mutual respect in which employees want to be at work to help each other when they are well. [...]

  5. [...] I do not subscribe to the idea of a culture chief, however. By definition, your culture is owned by every employee in your organization. Either passively or actively, every employee is creating, changing, flexing, adding to or taking away from your culture every day. [...]

  6. [...] I do not subscribe to the idea of a culture chief, however. By definition, your culture is owned by every employee in your organization. Either passively or actively, every employee is creating, changing, flexing, adding to or taking away from your culture every day. [...]

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