With clarity of what the desired new culture will (and will not) be—the next point of focus is to define the new behaviors that all leaders—from senior executives to middle managers and front-line managers need to embody and model (as well as avoid) to support the culture. These behaviors may differ depending on the type of culture desired, whether it be more collaborative, agile, innovative, inclusive, etc.
It’s critical that the behaviors are clearly and constantly communicated, modeled, and embodied by the CEO. It’s also important to measure and reward the desired behaviors among the organization’s senior leadership upfront. At the very least, the behaviors should be components of the performance management program.
F5 Networks, a global company that specializes in application services and multi-cloud application delivery networking, is a good example of this. Core to the culture evolution at F5 is something president and CEO Francois Locoh-Donou and CHRO Ana White partnered on called BeF5—a set of five behaviors they believe are necessary for the success of the company’s long-term strategy. They constantly reinforce with leaders what it means to BeF5 and ensure leaders are doing the same with others.
This includes embedding BeF5 into systems and processes. For example, they’ve added behaviors to performance management reviews, updated their employee recognition program to align to BeF5, and integrated these behaviors into their employee learning and development trainings.
Locoh-Donou details the firm’s approach— “While long-term strategy receives a great deal of focus at all levels of an organization, it’s the way in which people act and behave—and ultimately execute on that strategy—that determines success or failure. There has been an evolution of F5’s culture centered around five behaviors we think are necessary for the success of our long-term strategy:
While it’s important to be clear on behaviors, it’s also important to constantly reinforce them.
“We can all use a nudge occasionally,” Locoh-Donou advises, “especially at critical points in day-to-day activities. I tell our leaders to stop and consider the behaviors when:
- Making decisions
- Making hiring decisions
- Allocating resources
- Determining reward and recognition
I have learned from our chief HR officer and many members of her HR team that it is ideal to pull both small and big levers to reflect the new culture. From training programs, to the way employees are rewarded and recognized, to how new talent is recruited. There is still a lot to learn.”