No one engages with something that they are simply told or lectured. People engage when they are actually asked to voice an opinion and be part of a conversation.
Inviting people to participate is not the same as asking them to decide—it’s understood that the leadership team has to make sense of the discussion and come to a final decision. But your people’s participation creates emotional engagement. If it’s the regular course of business, then increasing employee’s emotional connection to the culture is all about creating as many moments for conversation and social storytelling as possible.
IBM did this
…with its ValuesJam, inviting all of its 400,000 employees online to discuss what was core to the company. The CEO and CMO took part in a threaded dialogue that extended over a 24-hour period.
Starbucks did this
…when Howard Schultz invited 11,000 of his store managers to New Orleans to discuss the future of the company.
Invite people into the process of defining or reinterpreting the purpose and values of the company.
A company that is having a genuine dialog about its culture will be more likely to have an engaged and vibrant one. A company that is relying on a monologue from leadership down to dictate actions is a company that isn’t engaging or leveraging the strength of its employees in any meaningful way.