We interviewed Donna Cutting on the topic of red-carpet service for brides when her “501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers” book was published. With the release of “Employees First: Inspire, Engage, and Focus on the Heart of Your Organization,” we asked her for a summary of key points from her book. What follows are excerpts from “Red-Carpet Roadmap to Reignite Your Workplace Culture” ©2021, which can be found in its entirety at www.RedCarpetLearning.com.

There’s no question that our future is still uncertain and that is impacting staffing, morale and your employee experience. There couldn’t be a better time to reimagine your workplace culture. We’re never going to go back to “normal” – it’s time to rethink what normal can be. It’s time to let go of best practices and ask what are the next practices? There are many things we can’t control, but there are a few steps you can take to reignite your workplace culture.

1. Lead with Empathy & Compassion. It’s important not to write off the impact that the last few years have had on the people who work at your organization.
    Extreme change, like the kind we’ve all been through, definitely takes its toll on our mental health. This is true for all of us, but especially those who work in certain professions such as healthcare, senior care and others on the front lines of the pandemic. Start by acknowledging what’s happened and that it’s been hard – to say the least.
    Make sure your team members know the help that’s available to them, such as Employee Assistance Programs. Refrain from jumping to conclusions and get curious about what’s going on with people.
    Practice compassion first and coaching second.

2. Listen. Now is the time to double down on listening to your team members.
    Yes, use your annual surveys and feedback-capture software, but go deeper than that. Get out of your office and have one-to-one conversations and group listening sessions and ask for honest feedback.
    Warning! These sessions are not always easy, but it’s important to really hear what your employees are saying. Resist the temptation to deem their suggestions as impossible! Your employees are telling you what would make your workplace one where they’d love to work.
    Take heed!

3. Collaborate. Once you’ve listened, then what?
    Then you collaborate with your team to reimagine your workplace culture. Bring the front line and back-of-the-house people to the table. Review their complaints and suggestions. Be honest about wanting to make changes, share the obstacles you see and ask for help finding solutions.
    Reimagine together and get clear on your vision for the future of your workplace. Take the actions needed to bring it to life!

4. Package Your Vision. Once you’re clear on your vision and you have an action plan for moving forward it’s time to package it.
    Create a written plan, produce videos, write a curriculum, and provide your leadership team with the tools they need to communicate your new plan.

5. Communicate with Transparency & Consistency. Speaking of communication, be transparent about where you’re going, and the timeline for getting there.
    Be honest about the fact that there will be obstacles and unknowns, but let everyone know that you’re going to work hard to bring your collaborative vision to life.
   Consistently update everyone on the team. Celebrate successes and work through the challenges together.

6. Educate. Roll out the curriculum to leaders and team members and give them a chance to practice the skills they need to deliver on your new vision.
    Remember to involve team members at every level in delivering the education. The more involved your people the easier it will be to get their buy-in.

7. Reinforce & Reevaluate. Keep your vision front and center!
   Share stories of your vision coming to life. Hold rallies, contests, and more listening sessions. In the words of Ken Blanchard, “catch people doing something right,” meaning intentionally look for people who are delivering on your new vision.
   It’s also critical to continually reevaluate your direction. If we’ve learned anything over the past few years it’s that things can change at the drop of a hat. Remember to include employees at every level in the conversations.

How Do You Sustain the Change?
Once you’ve reimagined your workplace culture and regenerated enthusiasm in your workplace, how do you sustain the change? The key is to keep your cultural tenets front and center through consistent and creative communication.

Here are some ideas:
Share Stories
   Every single day your employees demonstrate examples of your cultural expectations and service standards.
   Use every opportunity to tell the stories of your vision come to life. Share stories at meetings, at employee orientation, in your company-wide newsletter, and on your social media. Stories tug at emotional heartstrings and it’s the emotion that encourages behavior change.

Celebrate Successes
    Be clear about the milestones you hope to achieve on your journey and celebrate them with everyone on your team.

Host Rallies
    Have monthly or quarterly events (live or virtual) where you put the principles of your new culture in front of your team again. Create game shows, activities, songs, skits, or other fun ways to reinforce your vision.

Create Videos
    Videos can be fun tools for communicating your organizational culture. Hint: the funnier or more heartfelt they are the more effective they will be!

Involve Everyone
    Keep the collaboration going and involve team members at all levels of the organization in cultural projects.
    For instance, when Red-Carpet works with an organization to design and deliver customer service education, we facilitate a Train-the-Trainer program for employees who will be responsible for rolling out the curriculum.
    These Ambassadors are a mixture of managers and frontline/or back-of-the-house employees and they become enthusiastic evangelists for the new service standards.

Share at Meetings
    Start every meeting by discussing your vision, values and service standards. It’s all about keeping the vision front and center.
    Finally, remember that your workplace culture is a living and breathing entity. It needs constant nurturing and attention. Keep listening to your team members and collaborate with them for continuous improvement.
    If you’d like to know more about how Red-Carpet Learning can help you walk through these steps, visit www.redcarpetlearning.com and e-mail STARS@ RedCarpetLearning.com, or Donna@RedCarpetLearning.com.