We’ve been working with a new client, the executive director of a non-profit organization. He asked our consulting team to help him build the culture within his organization.
“If we get our culture right, and if we get our internal processes and ways of doing things right, then the results will follow,” he told us.
The following week, I watched the college national championship football game between Alabama and Georgia. And witnessed, as almost everyone knows, an amazing second-half comeback by Alabama.
Nick Saban, the Alabama coach, was asked multiple times about the secret to his teams’ success. “We’re all about the process,” he told people. “It’s not just about winning. It’s about teaching our players how to do things the right way.”
I was struck by the obvious parallels in thinking.
Nick Saban talked in his post-game interview about teaching his players not only the fundamentals of their jobs but also standards of behavior and how they need to communicate on and off the field. “We call it the ‘Process’,” Saban said. The executive director of the non-profit wanted to focus on making sure people have well-defined expectations for how to communicate and interact with each other.
In both cases, the key is not just talking about culture, but defining what that means and providing feedback so that people know how they’re doing. For the non-profit, we facilitated the development of specific “rules of engagement” for everyone in the organization. Here are a few examples:
Using specific statements like these helps make sure everyone is clear about the cultural norms. Once they are communicated, then people can focus on modeling these behaviors. I recommend every leader go through a process like this to make sure their teams get the fundamentals right.