As of Monday, President Donald Trump filled the recently vacant Chief of Staff position with his Homeland Security secretary, John Kelly. President Trump envisions John Kelly as the means to get the White House out of its chaos and spin. John Kelly, a former Marine of five decades, is said to be disciplined and a man who believes in upholding others to certain values and practices. Kelly will need to focus on three primary areas to immediately shift the culture at the White House. These same focuses can help any leader or organization reshape its culture.
The first focus is to know with certainty what your organization stands for. What is its purpose? What are its core values? Knowing the answers to these two questions inform employees as to the importance of the work they do and provides a guidepost as to how business will transpire, how employees will be treated, and how customers are valued. Then the organization must align its belief system with actual everyday implementation. It must “walk the talk.” If an organization states, “We grow our employees” then it needs to have a focused professional development strategy to be in alignment with that value.
"Determine what behaviors and beliefs you value as a company, and have everyone live true to them. These behaviors and beliefs should be so essential to your core, that you don't even think of it as culture." - Brittany Forsyth, VP of Human Resources, Shopify
The second focus are the people. Your organization must align its values with the people that are expected to carry them out. A keen eye on who you recruit to join the organization and who is retained is critical. Remember, the people give the vision and values life. Focus on this aspect is as critical as the skill sets needed for the position.
"Shaping your culture is more than half done when you hire your team." - Jessica Herrin, Founder, Stella & Dot
The third focus is the actual environment of the organization. The physical environment produces certain outcomes. An open work space with no doors can compel collaboration and a feeling of oneness. The spaces where employees gather for meetings or relax should convey the organization’s values as well. Does the organization value harmony? Then those spaces should have a feeling of peace, belongingness, and rejuvenation.
"What surrounds us is what is with in us." - T. F. Hodge, Author of 'From Within I Rise'
John Kelly will need to consider all three of these focuses for a true reshaping of the White House’s culture. He will need to step back and review who the White House is today, decide with key players and the staff what the primary values need to be, determine how it wants to live out loud its values, assess if the people on staff and those positions being recruited for align to the vision and values, and evaluate if the White House’s physical spaces inspires and align to the culture.