Building & Sustaining a Compelling Culture

A formula to build and sustain a compelling culture-1

Compelling cultures have a common ingredient. Trust. It characterizes who they are and what they do. This single ingredient propels them to be bigger, better, faster, and stronger. They win more opportunities, deal with less distractions, and enjoy more of what Jim Collins calls “luck events.” Trust was once considered a “soft” part of business. Now, it is a necessary component of sustainable growth.

Trust, as explored in a previous blog, consists of two components: character and competence. Stephen MR Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust, is a masterpiece building the business case for trust. In it, he states that two fundamental cores exist for each trust component:

  • Character = Integrity and Intent
  • Competence = Capabilities and Results

Leaders have an opportunity to build and sustain a compelling culture by injecting more trust into their organizations. More trust = a more compelling culture. Less trust = a more toxic culture. To do this, I recommend utilizing this formula with every person and process as well as every piece of infrastructure and governance structure. When people have clarity in how their job connects with the organization’s purposes (mission, vision, and values) and outcomes (desired results), trust increases. When people understand how their job aligns with other jobs, trust increases. When people have the right tools (infrastructure) to help them live on purpose and achieve the right outcomes, trust increases. When the governance structure supports the pursuit of living out organizational purposes and achieving outcomes, trust increases. When people are held accountable to accomplish their assigned goals and duties, trust increases. Are you seeing a pattern?

Clarity + Alignment + Accountability = Trust


  • Definition from Merriam-Webster
    • the quality of being easily understood
    • the quality of being expressed, remembered, understood, etc.,
    • the quality of being easily seen or heard
  • Why is it important?
    • Without clarity, people lack a clear understanding of what they need to do. Clearly understanding one’s role and how it relates to organizational purposes (mission, vision, values) and outcomes, creates greater buy-in. Such clarity provides purpose and meaning to why and how a person works. This is vital as top performers innately want to know that their contributions make a significant impact or difference.
  • Ways to Gain More Clarity
    • Update job descriptions annually and make sure each role has clear paths to how it relates to purposes and outcomes.
    • Update the Employee Handbook annually to ensure policies, procedures, and communication norms are clear.
    • Update standard operating process annually to ensure each person clearly knows what to do and how to do it.
    • Create a “Coaching Culture” where tools (e.g. – 1:1 Coaching meetings, Corrective Action, Recognition, Performance Reviews) are used to drive home clarity. People need to know how they are performing, and if their performance is in line with what the organization needs.


  • Definition from Merriam-Webster
    • the state of being arranged in a line or in proper position
    • the state or condition of agreeing with or matching something else
    • the state of being joined with others in supporting or opposing something
  • Why is it important?
    • Without alignment, people do not see connectedness with organizational purposes and outcomes. In addition, it is difficult to understand how one’s role aligns with other people in the organization. Where there is a high alignment, there will be greater teamwork. Greater teamwork results in higher productivity and employee engagement.
  • Ways to Gain More Alignment
    • Update job descriptions to ensure they align with other team-members. After establishing individual clarity, each job descriptions should be compared to other positions. Organizational team-members should understand how their role depends upon and interacts with other positions. This starts with a solid and updated job description.
    • Conduct purposeful and timely meetings. There are different types of meetings, and solid leaders understand how and when to use them. Daily huddles, weekly team meetings, monthly all-hands meetings, and quarterly reviews are ways to review tactical and strategic aims.
    • Provide cascading messages after leadership team meetings. Team-members want to know what is going on throughout the organization, and senior leaders have an opportunity to stay aligned with messaging key information after they meet. A cascading message is an agreed upon message from the senior leadership team that is sent organization-wide. Such a message assumes that senior leaders are meeting regularly to discuss the state of the business, adjust key initiatives and practices, and provide department updates. A list of key discussion points (agreed upon by all leaders) after the meeting is sent to the organization. 


  • Definition from Merriam-Webster
    • the quality or state of being accountable; especially an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions
  • Why is it important?
    • Accountability is a tool to promote clarity and alignment. When a person is under-performing or violating stated policies, it is necessary to correct his/her actions. Why? It showcases honesty to the core purposes and outcomes driving the organization.  When there is a lack of accountability, it sends a message that adhering to the purposes and outcomes are not important. Every person deserves to know where s/he stands within the organization. Accountability tools help create an honest, fair, and caring workplace. One of the most benevolent actions a manager can do is provide honest feedback. Sometimes this comes by way of enacting corrective action.
  • Ways to Gain More Accountability
    • Develop a solid corrective action plan (with tools) that allow for performance and behavioral concerns to be addressed.
    • Discuss performance and behavioral concerns early. Some actions, such as attendance issues, can be remedied in a 1:1 coaching session. When patterns start to emerge, a redirecting conversation can correct it.
    • Train managers how to implement a solid corrective action plan (with tools). For accountability to generate positive outcomes, the whole organization must live by the same rules. Failing to do so can create animosity and send a confusing message that some people can under-perform or act a certain way while other people cannot. This is a recipe for toxicity.

Compelling cultures exist due to trust. Leaders must make it a priority to live out practices and build structures to promote trust. This is done with such practices and structures promote clarity, alignment, and accountability. 


Need assistance with addressing short and long term HR needs for your business? Contact me at, and we will address them proactively.

Disclaimer: This blog is not legal advice, but merely informed opinion or general information meant for no particular purpose. Issues addressed in this blog often implicate federal, state, and local labor and employment laws. This blog is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. Readers should consult labor and employment counsel to determine whether their particular policies, procedures, decisions, or courses of action comply with such laws. 

Back to Blog