488: Building & Conveying Your Core Values and Culture Story
Part of business-to-employee storytelling includes the core values, mission, purpose, and culture story of the brand. Being intentional about building these elements will increase employee recruitment, retention, and results. In episode 488, Dave Mastovich talks about the importance of an up-to-date culture story, and the benefits it brings to a business.
It’s the No Bullshit Marketing Show. I’m Dave Mastovich, CEO and founder of MASSolutions, the world’s only No Bullshit Marketing consultants. Let’s talk about your culture story today. I want to ask you some questions. What all do you have as far as your mission, your vision, your purpose? Do you have that documented? What about your core values, the specific core values?
So the first question is, do you have that stuff? And I’m not so worried about whether you have all of that and say, ‘Well, we got our mission statement here, we got our vision statement there, and we got our purpose here. We got some core values.’ I don’t care whether you have all of that or just some of that. So let’s say you have core values and a mission statement. When were those done? And who participated? So a couple quick questions. Let’s say those were done more than a year or two ago. Probably want to continually revisit those, pulse check them, tweak, improve. Who was involved? Was it your senior leadership team? How much did you involve middle management? How much did you involve individual contributors and team members? How much did you involve outside strategic partners and stakeholders to get their outside perspective? If the answer is that you did a couple of strategy sessions with the senior leadership team, and maybe some of them from the outside, that’s still good, that’s a step in the right direction. But you also want to make sure you reach out and ask the entire team some open-ended questions. You want to gather their feedback and hear what they say. You might want to even get some other external stakeholders and involve them.
Then once you have that built, and it’s been current, and you’ve done pulse checks to see how it’s working, and how much it resonates, the next step is mapping out how you tell that story. Now, I want to stop right here and say the first part, that first part, I find a lot of people haven’t done to the degree that they need to. ‘Oh, we have that, I think we did that a year or two ago,’ and then they find out it was four years ago. ‘And we did that back when so and so was here,’ or ‘Oh yeah, we’ve had that on the wall for 10 years.’ And then, ‘Yeah, we brought in this consultant and he did a full day workshop with all the senior leaders.’ Okay. All that stuff’s okay. But what I’m challenging you to do is make sure that it’s current. Make sure that you pulse check it and change it and see how it’s working. Make sure that you’ve involved team members, individual contributors, middle management. Make sure you’ve involved some external stakeholders. Make sure you systematically gathered these insights by asking open-ended questions, listening and tracking. That way, you’re continually honing your core values, your mission, your vision, your purpose. And some might say, ‘Well, wait a minute. Dave, what are you talking about? It’s the mission, this mission stays true.’ I agree, it probably does stay mostly the same. Your vision probably stays somewhat the same, your purpose might even stay somewhat the same. The core values will probably stay similar, but they’re going to need to be tested and refined and to see if they’re still valuable and at their best as they are right now. Maybe 80 to 90% of it stays the same when you check into it a year later, or a year and a half later. But just the act and the action of you pulse checking it and evaluating what’s working and what’s not, that’s important.
But then the second part is how are you strategically and emotionally telling that story, your culture story? Have you built your culture content calendar? This is being intentional about taking the time to map out what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it, when you’re going to say it, and where you’re going to say it again, and again, and again, related to your culture story, related to your core values. Related to that mission, vision, purpose, your MVP. That’s where the vast majority of companies that I’ve encountered haven’t taken that to the level of intentionality that they need to. We call it B2E storytelling, business-to-employee marketing and business-to-employee storytelling. We also call it telling your culture story. I don’t care what you call it, call it whatever you want. But be intentional and systematic about talking to employees and conveying to current and prospective employees what that culture story is. Why? Well, when you’re able to tell that story again and again, internally, you find that the people that are really a fit, appreciate it. And the people that aren’t as much of a fit, maybe don’t, and maybe they exit. So it helps with retention, because you’re able to tell that story, and you’re able to tell it through the eyes, ears and voice of those employees. They’re part of the storytelling, they help build it. It’s built by and for them.
Then it helps with recruiting. Because you can differentiate yourself by your culture. When it comes to the title of a position, the base salary of the position, the benefits of the position, even some incentives of a position, most companies can match pretty closely on this. But each company has their own unique culture. If they haven’t set out to build it, it’s created organically on its own. That’s not always good. That’s not often good. But if you create a culture with intentionality, you then want to tell the story about that culture with intentionality. And that helps with recruiting, because someone has to choose between your company and a competitor. And like I said, they can say, ‘Well, this one pays $78,000 and this one pays $77,000. And this one has this benefit, and this one has that benefit. This one’s a hybrid work schedule, so does this one.’ They’re gonna make that decision on where they see they can personally grow, thrive and be themselves. They’re gonna make the decision based on the culture as they perceive it. So you need to be intentional about telling your culture story for recruiting, retention, and the third R is for results. Because when people understand your mission, your vision, your purpose, when people understand the why of the company, and the why customers buy, when people understand the core values, they’re going to communicate better with each other. And that increases your results, that improves productivity.
So building and telling your culture story helps with three R’s of recruiting, retention, and results. And the way to do it is to systematically build a culture content calendar and to build a storytelling opportunity inventory of where that story can be told to current and prospective employees. That’s the where, that’s the channel that’s used, the frequency, that’s your storytelling opportunity inventory, for your culture story.
And then it’s building this arsenal of anecdotes and analogies that are built by employees and for employees. What’s that mean? It means that you go out and find the stories about employees living the culture, employees exuding the core values, employees who understand your why and your customers’ why and they’re living it. You gather those anecdotes and analogies because they’re authentic, they’re real. And you build an inventory of those so you have two inventories going on. One is your storytelling opportunity inventory of where and how a story can be told and how often, and the other is your inventory of the anecdotes and analogies that you’ve gathered from employees. Now, you turn that into actual stories. You build stories that can be told again and again. And those stories are built with the science of storytelling. Those stories are built to leverage the power of storytelling. Cognitive scientists have shown again and again, and you’ve heard me say this again and again, if you’re a loyal no BSer, cognitive scientists have proven again and again, that our minds go through a process of formulating stories when we’re talking to others, when we’re meeting with others, when we’re watching a show, when we’re encountering others, when we’re in a meeting on Zoom or on Teams. And that process includes trying to understand the goal of that person, and their target audience, who they’re trying to reach and influence and what behaviors and mindsets they’re trying to change. But it also then goes into understanding the barriers and struggle, the struggle, the barriers overcome by that person, the lessons they learned, and who helped and how. We don’t want anyone to be a narcissist. We want to see someone who was helped by others, who helped and how, an impact that that made.
That’s all about how you take that anecdote or analogy that you started with, that anecdote about one of the employees that shows that she lives the core values. You then craft that story in a way that talks about the barriers, the struggle she’s overcome, the lessons she learned, who helped and how in that anecdote. Now you’ve got the science of storytelling at your fingertips. That’s how you build and tell your culture story with a system and with intentionality. You start off by being intentional and making sure you’ve got these core values, this mission, vision, purpose, all that stuff built by everyone in the organization involved, and even some external people. Then you build a storytelling opportunity inventory, it shows where and when, and how and how often you might tell these stories internally. That includes then building an inventory of anecdotes and analogies that are built by and for employees, things they’ve done to show they live those core values. Then apply the science of storytelling to those anecdotes and analogies to take them to that next level so that we, when we consume them, are impacted emotionally. And you build your culture content calendar. And you tell those stories again and again, with intentionality. That’s called B2E, business-to-employee marketing. That’s called business-to-employee storytelling, as well as a subset of that marketing. Marketing, the big umbrella, the plan, the strategy, and the storytelling under it, business-to-employee. It impacts recruiting, retention and results, and gets you on your way to being intentional and systematic about building and telling your culture story.
If you want to talk more about this, go to MASSolutions.biz and check out all the stuff about business-to-employee marketing, storytelling, building and creating a culture story for your organization. Thanks for listening to another episode of the No Bullshit Marketing Show, recorded here in MASSolutions studio in bold, beautiful, downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Remember, ask yourself, what’s the big idea? And build your story around the answer. It’s all about bold solutions. No BS.