Creating a positive workplace culture is essential but it won’t happen by sheer will. It’s not enough to simply communicate the mission and vision once and expect the desired culture to manifest itself and stick. To truly shape your desired culture, consistent reinforcement is a must.
Marketers refer to this as the Drip Method, which involves consistently reinforcing key messages a little over time. Think of an irrigation system. It can be targeted to drip water exactly where it’s needed, but one drop isn’t enough. Maintain a consistent drip though, and a single plant as well as the entire crop will thrive. The Drip Method in organizational culture can include everything from regular reminders and reinforcement through communication channels such as emails or newsletters, to daily rounding and ongoing training and development opportunities that align with the culture.
The reason why the Drip Method is so effective is that it acknowledges the reality that changing workplace culture is not a one-time, flip-the-switch event. Think back to the last time you tried to change a longstanding habit. Maybe it was starting a workout program or reading more regularly. Habits can be hard to change. It’s no different at work. Think about your organization and “the way things are done.” Many organizational processes and norms shape habits among the staff. Changing a habit requires ongoing effort and commitment. When leadership eases the transition with consistent reinforcement, employees are more likely to remember and internalize the desired behaviors, and over time they become a part of the organization’s DNA or a new (and better) habit.
Big, initial communications or trainings might have an impact, but it’s not enough to truly create lasting change. Here are a few ways to implement the Drip Method and reinforce the desired culture over time:
Consistently communicate the desired culture and values in daily actions beginning with rounding and one-on-one conversations. Harness the power of storytelling through a variety of channels. This can include company-wide emails, regular updates in meetings, and messaging on company intranets and daily huddles.
Offer ongoing training and development opportunities that explain and reinforce specific behaviors with the desired culture. This can include workshops, seminars, and online courses that help employees develop skills and behaviors that support the culture. But they can also be bite-sized training offered in staff meetings.
Recognition and Rewards
Create a culture of recognition and rewards that celebrates employees who embody the desired culture. This can include regular shoutouts in team meetings, awards ceremonies, and bonus or gift programs that reward employees who consistently demonstrate the desired behaviors.
When leaders consistently demonstrate the behaviors of the desired culture, it sends a powerful message to employees about what behaviors are valued and expected. If leaders are not following the behavior standards, staff will notice, and engagement will decline.
The Drip Method for communicating throughout a cultural change can make a lasting, positive impact.