6 Keys to Implementing a Culture Deck in Your Company

If you’ve made the decision to create a culture deck for your company, or are in the process of refining the one you already have, congratulations. A culture deck is an invaluable tool for any company. It lays out the framework for all to follow: vision, mission, core values, behaviors, and how people work. So long as the deck resonates with people, they will follow it.

cultureSuccessfully implementing a culture deck starts when it’s being crafted. But ensuring the deck gains a solid foothold requires the buy-in of leaders and allies who understand its contents and can transmit them. The benefits are well worth the work, as proven by firms such as Netflix, Valve, and Hubspot.

Culture decks can give companies a strategic advantage, distilling the very nature of the organization into a unifying document, a compass that can guide everyone, from new hires to veteran employees, on all levels right up to the C-suite.

To get the process on the right track, here are 6 best practices for successfully implementing a culture deck in your organization.

  1. Create the deck with implementation in mind.

HR should consider implementation right from the start when creating the culture deck. After HR designs the framework, it should bring in the rest of the organization to participate in creating the content. The more people involved in developing the deck, the smoother and more successful implementation will be. Encourage analysis and discussion, and disseminate that information to employees. This will drive engagement and increase awareness across the company.

  1. Build your ambassador network.

You need key players on board from day one. Use online survey tools to collect input on the deck, and then create a pool of culture deck ambassadors from those who responded. An ambassador can be any employee actively involved in the deck’s creation who is interested in sharing experience and internally promoting the deck. Develop an ambassador’s network from those who are the most actively engaged and who can support you as the deck is implemented across the company.

  1. Train the ambassadors and the senior leadership team.

Create trainings for the ambassador network and senior leadership team so they can back up the communication on the ground. As HR’s eyes and ears, the ambassadors can help HR understand where things are going well or not. The senior leadership team will drive the deck’s implementation at the mid- and lower-levels. Their behaviors and actions should demonstrate their buy-in, and their own initiatives should feed into the overall plan. They need to be able to show up, lead, and work consistently with the processes and systems put in place by the deck. Create a communication plan to ensure they repeat the right messaging as it relates to their teams.

  1. Enlist the CEO to lead the process.

The CEO’s buy-in is vital. The CEO should lead the charge, launching the culture deck to the company with an all-hands meeting in which they discuss the deck’s importance, how it will be used and integrated into the business, and its business implications. The CEO should launch the first initiatives associated with embedding the deck into the organization, such as recognizing an employee of the month for living one of the values. To ensure specific messaging is consistently repeated, create a communication plan with the CEO well in advance.

  1. Train the talent acquisition team.

Recruiting for skills and capabilities is not enough. But recruiting people with the wrong values fit is the simplest, most effective way to poison your company culture. Your talent acquisition team has to be able to recruit for the right values fit, which means making sure the whole team is clear on the values defined in the culture deck. They also need to understand the difference between hiring for culture fit and values fit. Train them on how to create interview questions for the values-based hiring part of the interview process. This step will ensure that new employees are a good fit.

  1. Commit to ongoing efforts.

Schedule monthly or frequent reviews with senior leadership and ambassadors to make sure the program is being rolled out effectively. Continue working with senior leadership to build elements of the deck into their regular communications, such as listing values during internal presentations, or reminding teams of the company mission and vision statements. It’s also important to celebrate the quick wins. Collect and share stories of values being lived by the company, and use internal company communications—such as videos or blogs—to highlight the deck and its implementation. It’s also important to schedule quarterly communications from the CEO about successes achieved. And make sure to quickly respond and deal with any issues as they come up.

A culture deck is not a static object any more than your company culture is. As the company evolves, so will the deck. Take an iterative approach to its development, and it will continue to resonate with people across the organization.

Bretton Putter is a leading expert on start-up and high-growth company culture. As managing partner of a global executive search firm, he sourced CXOs, VPs, and directors for more than 400 start-ups and high-growth companies. He is the founder and CEO of CultureGene, a company culture consultancy, writes a popular blog on culture-driven companies, is a sought-after speaker, and a contributor to Forbes. His new book is Culture Decks Decoded: Transform Your Culture Into A Visible, Conscious And Tangible Asset. Learn more at brettonputter.com.