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How to Build a People-Centered Culture from the Ground Up

“We don’t like command and control. Change the way you lead, or we’re leaving.”

That was the strong message that CEO Tom Walter of Tasty Catering heard from his company’s high potential team members.

“Change to what?” was his response.

Over the next few months the Chicago-based catering company created an innovative, team-based culture that radically improved morale. Hear their story in this short video. 

Watch this video with your senior leadership team, then use the questions below to launch a discussion on your own culture, and its impact on productivity and morale. 

Discussion Guide

Leaders at Tasty Catering turned the development of their company’s culture over to its employees: and the results were remarkable. Consider their experiences as you discuss the questions below.

  • Together, brainstorm a list of words that define your company’s culture. Ask each leader to do this same exercise with their direct reports, and consider how closely these lists overlap. What does this experience tell you?
  • Imagine a similar moment as the one Tom Walter faced: your highest potential employees threatening to leave if changes are not made immediately. Ask each senior team member to write down the issues that might prompt this type of radical behavior in your company.
  • With these issues identified, ask each team member to write a single, positive sentence about a change they’d like to make. Ask everyone to share their sentences.
  • As a team, identify three clear ways you’ll address concerns or expand positive aspects of the culture. Assign timelines to these ideas, and make them the responsibility of senior team leaders. Plan to report back at your next meeting.

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