Hannah Gill: Living a successful workplace culture

It's not enough just to create a culture playbook, you have to live it and work at it to achieve the best results. Hannah Gill explains the five-step process to do that and why the playbook needs to be used for positive as well as constructive feedback.

When we talk about change, be it renewal, regeneration or new beginnings, it’s paramount to understand that effective change can only ever be introduced and sustained when the team’s culture is underpinned with clear communication, transparency, alignment and trust.

This brings us to my final piece of the ‘culture playbook’ series.

In my previous two articles, I covered how your culture playbook should define ‘the way you do things’, explaining how it looks, sounds and feels to contribute to the team constructively.

I also outlined how to reflect on your expectations as a leader, so you can define, operationalise and implement your cultural expectations.

In this final instalment of the culture playbook series, let’s run through some suggestions on how to engage your team in the process of rolling out your playbook and how to make it an everyday part of the team’s decision-making, communication and accountability.

This is a five-step process:

  1. Complete the 10 reflection questions (from the first article).
  2. Draft a playbook based on your answers, which reflects what you stand for.
  3. Get the team together, be vulnerable: share your vision, values, and reflections, and then ask them to undertake the same activity.
  4. Regroup to reflect on consistencies (or differences) and discuss the team’s ideas, deciding which are most important. Ensure what you choose to include in the playbook encompasses their ideas too.
  5. Apply the feedback and roll out your playbook with the team’s endorsement – you may need a couple of takes at this point, but at least one round is essential.
  6. Bonus step: regularly review your playbook, especially as team dynamics change and team members come and go.

Once you have an agreed playbook, it’s time to share it to drive accountability.

You might choose to publish it on your website and let your clients know how important it is.

Your intranet might be the right place and perhaps share with the broader business (if applicable) at whole team training days or events. 

At the Property Collective we also use ours as a recruitment tool – you might reference it in your job ads, or it could form part of your approach and questions in interviews.

Ensuring that culture is an everyday part of the team’s decision-making, communication and accountability takes work.

Some practical examples include:

  1. An agenda item in one-on-one meetings.
  2. An agenda item in team meetings. 
  3. Introducing a culture award. In our business, we award a quarterly culture contribution award, voted on by the team for the team member who has best contributed culturally for that period.
  4. Reference it in any performance management discussion.
  5. Publicly praise team members for upholding the playbook with tangible examples.

Remember, your culture playbook is intended to recognise and celebrate good behaviour as well as being used as a performance management tool.

If you only use it for one side, it will quickly lose relevance. 


  • Be authentic. You need to believe in what you are saying in your playbook – if you don’t or aren’t prepared to uphold it, leave it out.
  • Be deliberate. Introducing and committing to your culture playbook takes work. If you’re not ready to stay the course and make culture a core element of your business, it’s probably not the right time to introduce a playbook.
  • Be committed: Have an ongoing commitment to refining your playbook as the team evolves and matures.
  • Be focused. Build your culture playbook into everyday communication, messaging and decision-making. 


  • Be inconsistent. The culture playbook should be one size fits all. No one should be exempt (unless, of course, that’s the culture you want for your team).
  • Only use it for negative feedback. It should be used just as much for praise and encouragement.

If you take only one thing from this, let it be that you, as the business leader, are responsible for creating an environment where a positive culture can thrive.

Documenting this will make your job easier as it creates a benchmark that everyone can buy into and succeed. And don’t forget, your culture playbook should become the basis for your decisions; therefore, your team’s input in its content and design is non-negotiable.

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Hannah Gill

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