Love Your Tribe: 5 Cisco Strategies for Creating a Culture for Transformation

Author and business consultant Marcus Buckingham says “Talent is the multiplier. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield.” This past year at Cisco we’ve taken Buckingham’s words to heart. With digital transformation in full swing, we recognize that talent, not technology, is the game changer when it comes to executing our vision. And that’s why we’ve set our sights on attracting top talent and building an environment where our employees can thrive.

The five strategies below have guided us in our mission to lead with purpose, love what we do and create a culture for transformation. I hope you’ll find them valuable for your own organization:

• Establish shared values – Your team desperately wants to feel a sense of belonging, and promoting shared values is the perfect place to start. Make a point to set values collaboratively as a group to define who you are, who you want to be and who you don’t want to be. This practice establishes a sense of connection and trust among team members and inherently promotes the concept of “we” over “me.”

• Recognize and celebrate others – Establish a culture that actively acknowledges and celebrates individual and group wins in both formal (awards) and informal ways (unexpected words of praise and encouragement). When you show appreciation, you are affirming that your colleagues and their contributions to the business make a difference. Take stock in how individual team members like to receive affirmation by conducting a five appreciation languages activity. It can assist you and your team in understanding the most effective ways to demonstrate appreciation to each other.

• Encourage connection – Research has found that meaningful work – not compensation – is what matters most to employees. This points to the need for storytelling and building a narrative around the work we do and its impact, which inspires others to move fast, change fast and innovate faster. It also demonstrates the need to form a connection between actions and values. For example, Cisco offers the Time2Give initiative, which grants people time off to volunteer for a cause or in the community. Cisco also matches all donations employees give to charity. Giving back strengthens the bond between a company and the outside world. It gives employees a shared purpose and also tells a story about who an organization is and what it values.

• Be vulnerable – Believe it or not, vulnerability is good and it builds stronger, more powerful teams. Vulnerability breeds authenticity and trust. If someone needs help or doesn’t have an answer, they should be encouraged to say so. Vulnerability inspires openness and opportunities for team members to support each other, and ultimately, work better together.

• Practice gratitude – Earlier this year, our team had the pleasure of hearing Shawn Achor speak about the link between happiness and success and the rippling effects of positivity. Optimism is contagious, and when people practice gratitude, be it through daily journaling about the things they are grateful for or merely being more perceptive to opportunities to thank others, it impacts attitudes and outcomes. These small deeds actually re-train your brain to seek (and give) positivity.

As an example of some of these strategies in motion, within our Customer Experience organization we built a cross-functional tiger team to nurture a fun, creative and collaborative work environment. These individuals lead our narrative, make a point to inspire and connect with others, celebrate all of our successes, and build friendships and team spirit. We have articulated our shared values, which include a commitment to our families, our community and the environment. All of this has brought our tribe closer, made us stronger as an organization and enabled us to achieve great things together.

Join us on Nov. 6 for our next SuccessTalk, Looking Back on Lessons Learned in 2018, where we’ll discuss other valuable ways to lead your tribe, inspire meaning in your work, and create a transformative culture that takes you to new levels of success.