Driving a successful culture: Hannah Gill

From recruitment and onboarding to driving results and letting staff go or move on, your culture playbook is the bible for your business. Hannah Gill explains how to construct your culture playbook and what to include in it so that everyone is on the same page.

In case you missed part one, here’s a quick recap. A culture playbook is a must-have for your business—the end. 

Just kidding, there’s a bit more to it.

Like a procedure manual, your culture playbook explains and defines the ‘how to’ culturally for your team, including you as the leader.

In the first part, we talked about the need to understand what you stand for as a leader because if this is unclear to you, it is almost impossible to lead with authenticity and courage. 

This time, we will run through how to define and operationalise your cultural expectations.

This can be as broad and encompassing as you feel necessary based on your team and goals.

From recruitment and onboarding, to exiting a team member, and everything in between, your culture playbook should have a beginning, middle and an end.

It is important to understand there is no right or wrong in what you include in your playbook, but you should consider a framework like this:

  1. A clear introduction.
  2. Outline what the playbook means. 
  3. Explain how it will be applied – remember to include the positives, not just performance management.
  4. Include measurements if applicable.
  5. Set expectations, such as what the consequences are if someone does not uphold your playbook.
  6. Highlight the key points you want to communicate.

In our culture playbook at The Property Collective, this is explained through identifying behaviours and values we want our team to embody and uphold (which doubles as a great recruitment tool).

We felt this was important to operationalise, so if you are reading or presenting the playbook, you can understand it through practical examples.

For example, rather than just saying communication is important, under the banner of communication, we say: 

  • We give and take feedback constructively.
  • We listen and seek to understand others so we can help find solutions.
  • We communicate with a value-adding mindset at every opportunity.
  • We don’t say anything about someone that we wouldn’t say to them directly.

See the difference?

A team member should understand what it looks, sounds and feels like to deliver on the expectation of communication.

Under this section of our culture playbook, we included quotes for #inspo to go with each overarching behaviour/value.

For communication, we share the wise words of George Bernard Shaw:

“The biggest problem with communication is the illusion it has taken place.”

You might leave it there, which is totally fine, but our culture playbook has a second part, outlining two important aspects of our culture we feel are important for everyone to understand.

For us, this is:

  • Elite performance
  • Pathways and promotions.

Using the ever so relevant framework designed by Jack Welsh, the former chief executive officer and chair of General Electric, we identify the four types of performers in teams and where we want to see our people fit: living by the values and delivering results.

But we also make clear those who do not fit culturally (delivering results but not upholding the values) will be asked to move along. 

For pathways and promotions, we outline the three key things we need for anyone in the team to be considered for promotion:

  • They are a star in their current role.
  • They have continued to upskill themselves.
  • The role is big enough.

These simple metrics remove any ambiguity around promotions and opportunities. 

We also highlight that if there is no opportunity available and someone decides to leave, we celebrate their decision and support them – we see no value in burning bridges.

Finally, recap/summarise the intention for your playbook again. 

Encourage feedback and remind the reader/listener that the document will continue to evolve as the team’s culture naturally does too.

Hopefully, you have decided having a culture playbook in your business is a good idea.

Up until this point, our focus has been on the leader(s) of the business (not necessarily a manager, but the person driving the creation of the playbook), with the reflection questions to identify what you stand for as a leader, and now also a framework for writing your playbook.

Next time, we’ll cover the process for getting team buy-in and feedback, introducing and implementing your playbook and some practical ideas on keeping the conversation and accountability going.

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Hannah Gill

Hannah Gill is the Director of The Property Collective, REIACT President and one half of Gill & Hooper