Someone once said that culture is what people do when no one is looking. If this statement rings true, what are the employees in your company doing when no one is looking? What is your company culture like and how does it manifest? How do employees know ‘how things are done around here’?

Is your tribe thriving, fighting or flailing?

Companies who are clear on their core purpose and know their values are well on their way to unifying their tribe. ‘Core purpose’ is not a lengthy vision or mission statement. It’s a short, sharp, snappy sentence that tells the world your raison d'etre (reason for being). When you really know your core purpose it not only tells the world why you do what you do, but it tells your employees -the people who have the greatest impact on your ability to achieve it.

Developing and knowing your company values is essential to unifying your tribe too. We’re not talking about a few trendy, static words written on a letterhead, we're talking about active values. Words that communicate the types of behaviours and actions the company expects employees to adopt and display. While your employees are busy helping you achieve your core purpose each day they exhibit these behaviours – behaviours that reflect the company values and manifest the company culture.

Once we know what we want to achieve and what values we want to espouse, how do we reinforce them so everybody in the company understands what is expected? What should be celebrated? How do we communicate the message? How do we give our culture meaning and life? 

We do what tribes have done for centuries.
We story tell.
We tribalise.

People have an innate need to belong to a unified group and to strive for a unified purpose. It harks back to the cavemen days when members belonged to tribes and tribal leaders told tales of old and handed down wisdom and learnings to other tribal members. The stories taught what was expected, what was valued, what was celebrated and what wisdom had been gained from others experience. There exists a real opportunity to harness this same desire for belonging in employees and utilise the age-old concept of campfire storytelling to reinforce the type of behaviours, values and practices that align with the company’s core purpose.

Applied practically, tribalisation in the workplace can take the form of a recognition program that rewards the behaviours and achievements that the company like to see replicated. The values can be demonstrated and supported at CEO addresses, senior management meetings, at departmental or divisional addresses. Achievements or actions can be celebrated at company events.

Expectations can be iterated through story telling in both written and verbal communications. Behaviours and expectations can be established in performance and feedback processes. Desirable values and mindsets can be reinforced in talent management identification and promotion. Managers can positively recognise and reinforce desired actions and outcomes in informal conversations.

In order to initiate a culture of storytelling, you must document real examples of the values, actions and behaviours the company wants to reinforce. This will ensure that your stories are true, realistic and relevant. Employees will see through a disingenuous story. Don’t waste the opportunity to reward and recognise an employee who is already living and breathing the values and core purpose.

The true beauty of tribalisation is that it is accessible to companies of all sizes from start-ups to multi-million-dollar businesses. It can be done by any individual in the workplace and at any level, because story-telling is a free yet, incredibly powerful tool. That is the power of tribalisation.

What are your employees doing when no one is looking?

Learn how G2 Innovation supports organisation's by visiting the 'Innovating People and Culture' webpage and downloading our Cheat Sheets: Innovating Your Culture.

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