Culture isn’t an unchanging feature of an organization. Just as a company’s product strategy must evolve over time, so should its culture. ReCulturing, as Udemy Chief Learning Officer, Melissa Daimler, calls it, is a systems-based act of reconnecting a company’s behaviors, processes, and practices to align with its evolving trajectory. As an organization grows, the culture that defined it years ago may not reflect where it is in the present. This idea of ReCulturing is key for helping companies navigate whatever challenges lie ahead.

Melissa recently hosted a webinar about what it means to ReCulture and build a thriving culture through learning. Questions flowed in the chat as many participants noted a similar focus on internal culture in their own companies. Because culture is so critical to the long-term health of an organization, Melissa wanted to take a moment to answer questions we couldn’t get to during the live session, and we wanted to share her knowledge and perspectives with our wider audience through this post. 

Melissa Daimler Udemy ReCulturing tips

How can a company narrow down its many desired workforce behaviors into a digestible set of values? 

Good news — the most complex work is done if you’ve identified workforce behaviors! Once you have a list of behaviors, work backward to determine what keywords or themes tie to behaviors. Having three to five high-level values is all you need. To get to those, start with a longer list and work with your team via your preferred virtual collaboration tool to identify the values that best represent your behaviors. 

How do you address and work with an organization’s senior leaders if they are not systems thinkers when it comes to ReCulturing?

Meet leaders where they are. Too often, as Learning, Talent, and People leaders, we bring our own jargon and processes to the table without first sharing why we think an initiative is important and how we believe it can help the organization. Redefine culture as something we can actively do and share how it can help your company’s broader strategy. Clarify how your leaders have traditionally thought of culture and take the opportunity to reframe it as a strategic lever to help the company — and them — be more effective. 

How and when do you distribute a ReCulturing strategy to employees? Do you let them know it’s in development or only share once there’s a completed framework? 

ReCulturing is a co-created process. At Udemy, we worked with employees and the leadership team to build our newly defined behaviors and values. We are continuing to update employees on how we’re integrating these into our processes and practices. We are also identifying the skills associated with the behaviors and providing learning experiences to develop and reinforce those skills. ReCulturing is never finished, so it’s important to ensure there is an ongoing dialogue on it, giving each other opportunities to contribute and learn to be accountable for living our values and behaviors. 

What are the best practices for communicating a set of new values to the leaders and employees of your company?

Ensure that it’s not just HR that shares the new values. HR can certainly drive a significant effort like this, but it is ideally done in collaboration with leadership and employees across every function and location. To reinforce the importance of the evolved values and behaviors, encourage the leadership team along with key employees to share not only how the values and behaviors have evolved but why these particular ones are important.

It’s also important to share examples of how values and behaviors will integrate into core people processes that employees are familiar with, like interviewing, onboarding, and feedback. Give examples of hiring questions that will incorporate those new behaviors. Or show how feedback will become more precise and actionable when leveraging these new behaviors.  

How can we measure that our culture is working? Are there key metrics to track?

Engagement metrics, retention, internal mobility, and 360 feedback based on the identified behaviors are all good outcome metrics to leverage when identifying if the culture is working. 

How should we create a consistent culture of values and behaviors for a parent company versus its subsidiaries?

One overall strategy and culture for a company that incorporates the subsidiaries is essential. These companies are linked together for a reason – the strategy and culture help to define why. Each company will likely have its own strategy and unique take on culture; however, they must link to those of the parent company. Employees need and want consistent anchors. Being able to tie their work to the overall strategy is a core anchor for them to refer back to daily.

For example, each of the leaders on my team has objectives and key results they are responsible for delivering. These roll up into our overall Learning Design and Development objectives and results, which then roll up to the People team and company objectives. Our objectives tie directly into how our company will reach its broader goals. Having team purpose or mission statements is also a good way for a team to remember why it exists. However, it’s important to tie those team or subsidiary purpose statements to that of the parent company. Not connecting these values will only create more confusion and complexity among employees. We want to make these values and behaviors as clear and straightforward as possible for the employees of all the related organizations. 

I work at a public institution where we don’t have a large budget to bring a vibrant culture to life. Is a strong, engaged company culture possible on a shoestring budget?

Yes! ReCulturing is something we can do on a zero budget. It is more about investing the time to develop a thorough ReCulturing plan and then being able to execute on that over a period of a few months with your leadership team and employees.

How can you actively reinforce your culture?

Now that Melissa has shared deeper insights into ReCulturing, you can also revisit the foundational elements of the topic by watching the on-demand webinar, ReCulturing: How to Build Successful Cultures Through Learning. In addition to the insights in this article, you’ll learn about Melissa’s framework for building an engaging and sustaining organizational culture. You can also purchase her book, ReCulturing, at your local bookstore, AmazonWalmart, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Bookshop.org.