Cultivating desirable organisational culture in remote teams!

A simple, scalable approach on how to drive cultural change during this post pandemic era!

Culture is key to success of any organisation which depends on human productivity! Building a desirable culture in a small group is possible with some effort, but once into a fast expansion phase it will get very difficult. The same practices which previously helped in propagating the culture to a smaller group may not be affordable or scalable to a bigger group! Adding to that when we have Work From Home adopted widely, it gets even more challenging in propagating the desired culture!

So let us try to arrive at a systematic approach which is scalable and also which helps virtual work environment as well.

Before we talk about culture it is important to have clear understanding on individual human characteristics i.e as an individual what defines our character?

Our Behaviours and Decisions

And why do we behave in a certain way? what guides our judgement towards those decision?

Our Internal Value system

These are our core values inculcated into our mind, influenced by the beliefs and memories of positive / negative reinforcement from our surroundings during different situations so far in our life!

Now getting back to Culture, whenever we mention culture what do we actually mean?

Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people!

This group of people can be of any social arrangement like a family, community, region, religion and also of an organisation! i.e we can say an organisation is nothing but a group of individuals with own values get together to work towards a common vision.

Now we realize if we can influence these values we can get the desirable culture, for that we'll use a Management 3.0 recommended exercise with small modifications which helps in surfacing the current values and steps in influencing those values.

Value Stories exercise is to be done in the team level and also in the executive level, typically facilitated by the Leader in the Managerial role.

  1. Gather team and set context about the activity, for Virtual teams, use tools like Mural / Miro / tilde for better collaboration.
  2. Provide them with the big values list image.png
  3. Select only top three values which they identify themselves with. [5 Mins]
    • [Optional] Ask people to present a past story which showcases an action influenced by any one of their value [2 Mins each]
  4. Now together as group discuss and arrive at top three core values of the team
    • [Optional] Ask people to present a past story which showcases an action influenced by any one of their value [2 Mins each]
  5. Take time to see and draw parallels on how the values of the team individuals come together to form the group's values, there may be similarities which compliments and even differences which counteracts.
  6. And then decide on the Wish values, these are values which can elevate the team further, can also be values from the overall organization which needed to propagated down to team.
  7. Now we have the Core Values and the Wish Values of the team, this can documented and can be made a poster!
  8. The main action item of this exercise is to realize the values of the team and henceforth everyone should remember, When ever they had to take a decision / When ever they communicate/ When ever you do a task etc. - Make sure actions are aligned with the team's core values and always look for opportunities to do something which can reflect the wish values. undraw_informed_decision_p2lh.png

a. Sample Team 1 image.png

b. Sample Team 2 image.png

This exercise needs to be done with all the teams and also with the Leadership team to identify the organization's Core Values and the Wish Values.

This exercise definitely helps the existing team members to know more of the team better even if its in virtual session and even help realize more about themselves. And this is also extremely helpful for the new team members, this artifact acts a wonderful insight into the team's culture, which is otherwise a very difficult thing to explain.

This also helps in hiring, as now we know the wish values we can look for people with those values who can be a better influence to that team.

We can change culture if we change behavior. - Dr. Aubrey Daniels

And these Core Values and Wish Values are like the guide posts shining lights on the path towards the desirable behaviour that improves the Company Culture!

Value systems are not always constant but does takes some effort in altering it. In any group, people with more authority / leverage / control of resources tend to influence more to the group's decisions and its behaviours. Like how in a family, parents influence on the behaviours, similarly in the Organizational realm its the Leader(s) who has the responsibility to inculcate the thought process of strong culture. undraw_Connecting_Teams_8ntu.png Now as a leader to cultivate the desirable culture you need to observe the behaviours and decisions of the team, if its complimenting to core values please make sure to have a positive reinforcement, as simple as "good Job!" can do. And also the vice versa when ever any action which counteracts to any core value, please make sure it is discussed and any differences are sorted.

Also this is not just in the team level, the same applies for the Executive team as well, and people should be empowered to point out to the leaders if their actions are not aligned with the values.

And every year when the mission changes it may come with new strategy and tactics for business which may require some cultural change from team, so it's good to revisit this exercise every year to see if the wish values have propagated to team's core values and to find the next set of wish values, so there is continuous improvement towards the desired culture.

Additionally we can collect stories which showcases the positive outcome because of the actions influenced by these Values, esp. from team/people who consistently and naturally align with these values, your Cultural Ambassadors! they are and their exemplary stories should be documented and told.


These inspiring value stories from the leaders and cultural ambassadors grows long and becomes "The Culture Book" of your Organization, which communicates the "Values" of the organisation and how it celebrates the behaviours and decisions that cultivate the "Culture"!

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