Creating culture is not such an easy thing to do. Where do you start? What do you do? How can you ensure that the investment of time and money is well spent and that the changes you wish to see actually end up happening?

We love the idea of writing a culture manifesto. This is a short and simple document (no more than one page!) that brings your organisation’s culture and values to life.

Here are top three tips to writing a good one:

  1. Ensure everybody’s voice is heard equally
  2. Allow leadership to be part of the exercise
  3. Create follow through and meaningful conversation

1. Ensure everybody’s voice is heard equally

This may sound really obvious (and it is) but it’s surprisingly hard to do.  A good facilitator will ensure that everybody has had a chance to input to the session and that the amount of time people spend talking is shared out more or less equally. Research shows that power and influence in a meeting are closely linked to the time spent talking. Keep your eyes open for anybody more quiet than normal, invite their contribution. 

Let your team know that it’s OK to be vulnerable, to say things they might not have said before, to share half-formed thoughts, and to meet in conversation at the collective edge of new understanding. Very often we find that when somebody finally speaks to the elephant in the room; that’s when the conversation becomes broader and more necessary. We invite those disruptions.

2. Allow leadership to be part of the exercise

It’s essential that leaders are allowed and invited to take part in this kind of exercise and to be an integral part of the conversation. Too often we see leadership standing outside (and above?) this kind of group workshop. We’re always on the lookout for the kind of leaders who are willing to learn, who are willing to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘Let’s figure this out together’. It’s this kind of humble, service orientated leadership that is becoming such a force in today’s economy.

Hiring an external consultant or facilitator is important in allowing everybody else in the organisation, including the leadership, to sit within the circle. This creates a shared sense of equality and inclusivity, and leads to psychological safety being one of the outcomes of this kind of workshop.

3. Create follow through and meaningful conversation

The real reason for writing a team manifesto is the conversations that occur in the writing process, and then later around the ongoing implementation. During these conversations relationships are built, trust is fostered, and the culture of a team is actually experienced. To have had a deep and collective dive into the values you feel are important and the ways that you’re going to embody and live them while at work – well, that’s exactly the stuff that bonds a team deeply and creates the kinds of thriving workplace cultures we’re seeing pop up all over the place. 

At the end of your workshop ensure that at least part of the group focuses on what follow through will look like; what rhythms and rituals will you have in place to ensure the manifesto becomes a lived document? How can you all hold collective accountability and what ongoing rituals can help with this?

Conclusion

Our team manifesto workshop is becoming one of our signature offerings. It serves as a one off piece of work, or as part of a larger cultural intervention. If you’re intrigued as to how we can help you build great culture through writing a team manifesto get in touch to book an initial conversation. We’re always keen to hear from leaders who are willing to learn.