Win the Talent War: David Shanklin
David Shanklin is Head of Culture Strategy at CultureIQ. They combine culture-engagement software and strategy into a powerful platform that helps you understand and strengthen your company culture. Shanklin has been a consultant at Deloitte and a team lead at Great Place to Work Institute, both contributing to his background in assessing company culture. Here he shares his thoughts on driving a positive corporate culture.
Time-Stamped Show Notes
[00:00] Introduction and background of David Shanklin.
[02:53] What is the Head of Culture Strategy?
[04:42] Corporate culture in the workplace now.
[07:29] Biggest challenges in gauging one’s corporate culture.
[09:53] The evolution of work in the U.S.
[12:50] Fostering an environment to grow leaders.
[14:45] Culture is the only benefit you can’t replicate.
[16:38] Driving company culture.
[22:13] Shanklin’s advice to his college-aged self.
[23:15] Contact info.
Introduction and Background
After David Shanklin completed his MBA and got a bit of work experience, he accepted a job at what Fortune 100 lists as one of the best companies to work for. “I took a role in their consulting practice, and it was exactly the work I hoped I would be passionate about doing. I loved my job there, and worked with incredible people,” says Shanklin. “Then about a year and a half ago, Greg Besner, the founder of CultureIQ, offered me the opportunity to come here, build our culture strategy practice, and be a part of the leadership team. It was too good of an experience to pass up, and I feel so privileged to be part of the CultureIQ team.”
What CultureIQ and the Head of Culture Strategy Do
As the Head of Culture Strategy, Shanklin is responsible for some client work and leading the culture strategy team. “Really, what we’re responsible for is end-to-end advisory for our clients, around their culture, how they’re measuring it, and taking action on that data.”
CultureIQ encounters companies who have been measuring culture and engagement for a long time but are looking for a new solution, and others who had never done this before. Using their core framework and methodology, Shanklin’s team finds solutions for these companies. “We measure culture from both an operational context, and a strategic context, and we provide those results real-time. In our experience, culture is all about leaders having a conversation with their employees, and an ongoing dialogue,” says Shanklin. “Our platform really facilitates that in a much more meaningful and robust way, and it can happen far more quickly than a lot of the legacy products you see out there that are more on a once-a-year cadence.”
The Measurement of Culture and Engagement
“Culture and engagement have almost become synonymous, but they are actually somewhat different things,” Shanklin says. CultureIQ measures both of those through their survey. How people feel on the engagement side is measured through their operational framework, which consists of ten core qualities. These are things that all organizations have to be good at, so they are benchmarked in many engagement surveys.
Their second framework is the strategic culture framework, which is all about what you need to do in order to execute your business strategy. They have eight strategic culture dimensions that they measure in their core survey. These are things like risk-taking, process-orientation, and hierarchy. “We can start with our core survey and … try to customize our survey as well,” Shanklin explains. “So while we have standardized strategic culture dimensions, usually as we work with an organization over time, that takes the form of very specific behaviors that we’re working with an organization to uncover, that they need to have present, and then we’re measuring those things very specifically.”
How, Why, and Implementing Change
CultureIQ’s core framework teases out things about the organization, giving them the ‘how.’ Then the employees have the opportunity to comment. The comments give them the ‘why.’ Then they facilitate a discussion with the executive leadership team about what they’re seeing in the data. This is an important part of their process because it allows open dialogue between the culture experts and the leaders who are experts in their own business. In that collaborative discussion, there are a lot of aha moments. Understanding why things are happening allows organizations to really start implementing change.
American Work Evolution
We’re not in the industrial revolution anymore. Instead of wanting employees to show up and be quiet, we’re requiring employees to be far more creative and innovative. This gives them freedom and autonomy to think for themselves, act for themselves, and come up with some great ideas and solutions. “However, the old organizational structures that support process, control, and hierarchy just don’t fit that model. Not to mention, they are incredibly demotivating,” Shanklin says. “Because so many cultures have developed in that old hierarchy, command, and control environment, we’re seeing that bleed into the less than optimal cultures that we have today.” There is still a transition happening and it will take some concerted effort to move out of the old model and into workable cultures.
Fostering an Environment of Leaders
“It starts with clearly defining the culture you want,” says Shanklin, “because as we’ve talked about, so few leaders actually understand what their culture is, which means they’re not being intentional about it.” Shanklin advises finding a couple of examples to start with, because that is also how you want to develop your leaders. You will want your leaders to emulate that culture, and be living examples of the culture you want to create. Then they need to enable others to develop. Another simple tip is to promote an employee for their ability to lead instead of for individual performance. A good worker may not necessarily make a great leader.
Finding Top Talent
Finding top talent comes back to culture, because culture is the only benefit you can’t replicate. Someone can pay your employees what you pay them, they can get the same insurance, benefits, and to some extent, they can even design the same recognition programs. “But culture is something you can’t replicate, so I think the more you can be intentional about it, and make sure that it’s well aligned, and extremely positive, the better luck you’ll have attracting talent,” he says, “and when you design a strong enough culture, people come to you in a lot of cases, and you’re spending a lot less time investing, and going out and searching for that talent.”
Shanklin’s Advice to his College-Aged Self
Shanklin’s number one piece of advice to his younger self is to have patience. His number two piece of advice is to do what you’re passionate about.
To learn more, check out CultureIQ’s website.