It’ matters to you and ‘it’ matters to your organisation. As a leader, you want ‘it’ to be engrained into the fabric of your team or your staff. You don’t just want people to do ‘it’. You wan’t people to do ‘it’ and keep doing ‘it’

What is ‘it’?

You decide. ‘It’ is whatever you want ‘it’ to be. Maybe ‘it’ is a behaviour. Maybe ‘it’ is a process. Maybe ‘it’ is the big idea or system you are trying to implement. Whatever ‘it’ is for you, there are some questions we can ask as leaders to help design a culture that ensures ‘it’ keeps happening.  


Question 1 – How have we defined ‘it’?

If you want to see something repeated, it first stands to reason that you’ll need to identify exactly what ‘it’ is that you are going for. It means asking the definition question. If we don’t know how to define it, how will we know what to look for? How will anyone recognise it when they see it? Many great leaders and writers agree that in life and leadership we get things by default or by design. Time spent defining, clarifying and refining exactly what you are going for is never time wasted.


Question 2 – How are we communicating ‘it’? 

You know what ‘it’ is, but do they? If they wanted to know, how could they find out? Do they know why ‘it’ matters? This is ultimately a communication question. Moving ‘it’ from personal understanding to public knowledge. ‘It’ becomes part of the language of your organisation. This idea of communication takes on two key components. The first is what we SAY and the second is what we DO. Both of these are communicating ‘it’ to the people you lead. Is ‘it’ spoken about in meetings? Is ‘it’ written somewhere that team members can access? And most importantly, is it lead and modelled from the top? If it isn’t first modelled and there is incongruence between what is said and what is done, it won’t be respected. If it isn’t respected, it certainly won’t be repeated. 


Question 3 – How can we catch people doing ‘it’?

I’ve worked with people early on in my career who made it their mission to catch people doing something wrong. I’ve always tried to be intentional about catching people doing something right. I think it is important to address counterproductive behaviour, but it should always be balanced with reinforcing what is right. You may know what ‘it’ is, and the people you lead may also know. But how can you identify ways to catch people doing ‘it’. You may not always be around to see people doing ‘it’, so how can you create systems and feedback processes to recognise when people are hitting the mark?  


Question 4 – How can we meaningfully reward ‘it’?

It is well documented that recognition and reward strategies positively influence employee attitudes and behaviours. However I would add that when recognising and rewarding employees for exhibiting the desired behaviour or culture, understanding why it is being rewarded is also extremely important. Does the employee really understand why their actions have been meaningful for the organisation and leader? This goes beyond the philosophy of ‘do something right and get a reward’ to the employee understanding how they are adding value to the bigger picture through their actions. We should reward staff, but we should also take the time to educate.

I heard a leader share a perfect example of this recently. He said that whenever he receives positive feedback about one of his staff members his EA will print out the email. He then takes time to write a thank you note to the employee in the margins specifically telling the employee how they have modelled the culture or behaviours they are trying to create and how meaningful it was to the bigger picture of the organisation. An outstanding example of meaningful reward.


If you want people to REPEAT IT. You first need to DEFINE IT, COMMUNICATE IT, IDENTIFY IT and meaningfully REWARD IT

Now your next step from here is going back through this article and replacing ‘it’ with whatever you are trying to see repeated in your organisation.