Strengthen Marketing Teams, Increase Cultural Capital
Cultural Capital is the emerging frontier of competitive advantage.
Brands need it more than ever.
Increasing cultural capital starts with building influential connections through the company’s teams of marketing resources. The brand teams, creative agencies and digital marketing suppliers who work closely together to make sure the brand shows up (authentically) in cultural context.
No small feat for leaders in ordinary times. Increasingly elusive today.
As we work remotely and connect more virtually, keeping teams connected feels like we’re straining to hit that high note, a bit out of reach.
After all, when you strip away the physical office, the water-coolers, white boards, and elevator wait times, we reveal a nakedness of infrastructure and clearer view of people themselves, and perhaps the real or distanced connections between us.
The dynamics of corporate culture could not be changing any faster. We see the clear shift in the ways people want to experience working.
Companies are moving away from the traditional process-focus of hierarchy, control and effectiveness towards cultures that emphasize the value of people working together, with agility and communication. Higher order core values, like sense of purpose and societal contribution, inclusion and respect are more acute than ever.
Leaders who want next year to be a better year can focus on cultivating stronger cultural connection between people working to build their brand.
Here are four ways to start.
1. Set the Tempo ~ Discussion and Data.
Leaders initiate the cultural conversation. They can encourage team members to discuss what’s most important to them now, and recognize the shift in values that has likely resulted from a tough year in business, and in life.
According to The Leadership Assessment Study, Barrett Values Centre, high performing leaders are described by others as fearless; these leaders have a greater focus on their relationships with others, and demonstrate the core values attributed to successful leaders, like accessibility and authenticity in their interactions with others.
The fearless leaders I know work to take down walls (and even kick open a few closed doors).
Fearless leaders are adept at connecting in meaningful ways with others. They start by openly sharing stories of their personal core values. They lead by example. They offer how their life experiences relate to the desired organizational cultural values they are affirming. Then they invite and inspire others to do the same.
Cultural Discussion is Good
Sometimes it feels awkward to express the intangible nature of what we care about in a business context without sounding trite. After all, who doesn’t want to feel trusted, or be seen as collaborative, or work for a company that makes the world a better place?
Lean into it with these Culture Questions:
- Do people have a clear understanding of where the organization is going and how this relates to their role?
- Does the company vision, mission and values still resonate with them?
- Does the current culture empower people to work remotely and yet inter-dependently?
- What continues to be important to them on a personal level? How has this changed this year?
Cultural Data is Even Better
Culture is not a soft and squishy topic. Culture is a key driver of growth and performance. It can be measured, and mined for improvement strategies.
Cultural data improves discussion. It creates a framework for everyday interactions and decision-making. It also helps leaders pinpoint problems and the constraints people face.
For leaders that appreciate data-driven analysis, ROJEK provides clients its proprietary online cultural assessment, CultureFit™.
CultureFit™ data tell us:
- what values are top of mind and heart for teams, and whether they see or experience those values in their current team culture
- what changes are required to achieve the aspired culture for the company or brand, e.g., one that delivers greater innovation and growth
- how to increase cohesion across a wide network of teams and resources, identifying what cultural constraints drain energy and squelch our best efforts
2. Use Technology to Encourage Cultural Connections
Life is zooming by! It’s vital team members don’t feel increasingly disconnected, or think a company’s core values have been relegated to a back burner.
Companies can use technology to foster cultural connections in virtual space.
- Launch a community for your remote teams to connect using networking platforms like Remo, accessible for teams everywhere.
- Use Messenger tools like Slack and Flock to engage teams in online channels where they can discuss things they are passionate about.
- Open Zoom meetings with key images or Culture Decks to affirm key values and set the tone before diving into agendas.
Appoint Culture Crews members to function as cultural agents, fostering the values important to mentoring, collaboration and team-building as people work remotely. Crew members can connect across various communication channels in fun ways that are unique to the brand.
3. Values in Action with Cultural Experiences
Leaders can sponsor opportunities for team members to take an action to reinforce the cultural values that are important. Taking action, even independent action, provides the proof points for individuals and teams, further embedding those values within the company culture.
We admire the founders of MTD Products, global leader in outdoor power equipment, who hold up sustainability and stewardship as core values that endure to the present day. The company provides opportunities for its team members to inspire others to value and protect the earth, with community service initiatives and beautification projects. https://www.mtdproducts.com/en_US/responsibility/
Time to Vote
An example of citizenship values in action is the business community of more than 1600+ companies that joined the non-partisan movement to contribute to the culture shift needed to increase voter participation in our country’s elections. Participation includes giving employees access to and information about early voting or vote-by-mail options, offering paid time off on Election Day or making it a day without meetings. https://maketimetovote.org
4. Catalyst for Cultural Evolution – Find the Agency that Fits
Certain cultural values present in a brand’s agency partners and marketing resources, often help marketing leaders cultivate core values they admire, and want to amplify within their own companies. Brands can gain Cultural Capital when they hire the right agency resources to positively impact the group dynamic and boost overall performance. Companies and agencies that are a good cultural fit are more likely to be highly engaged in the work, connect and collaborate, and stay together longer.
As a result, Cultural due diligence is becoming the new normal in finding agency partners, offsetting the risk of fail rates.
Sourcing new creative partners during COVID may feel intimidating, but doing so now provides a real-time opportunity to test cultural connectivity. Rounding out cultural behavioral cues with our cultural data improves the odds of making the best hiring choice, and provides a road map for team integration.
We can borrow a lesson learned from the mergers and acquisition field; industry studies show more than a whopping 60% of mergers and acquisitions fall short of goals because insufficient attention was paid prior to the merger of developing a plan to accommodate the integration of the different cultures. Leaders are typically unaware of the behavioral dynamics that are driving the different cultures and the aspirations of the employees relative to the development of the company.
Everything Good starts with Cultural Fit™
Understanding the nature of the two comparative cultures from the onset of a new partnership can dramatically impact the success of hiring. This perspective provides leaders with the inside track to understand overall team alignment, as well as gaps and differences across marketing suppliers.
Our proprietary cultural assessment of advertising agencies and suppliers provides brand leaders the data they need to make confident selection decisions.
Leaders can differentiate their choices among candidate agencies to hire, even while working remotely, as they plan for new marketing initiatives for the coming year.
For a world with fewer walls, tuning in to what is important to the people we work with is an easy first step towards cultural connections.
For fearless leaders who want to strengthen frayed cultural connections within their companies, discussion plus data provides a clear view of areas to improve upon.
For brands seeking to find the agency partners that fit their current culture, or can bring positive values to a desired culture, there is no better strategy that hiring for Cultural Fit™.