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Developing a Contagious Culture

“We have all the systems and processes in place, it’s our employee engagement and customer experience that we need to improve.”

Our last blog focussed on Building the Business Case for Culture Change. This article focuses on some of the activities that you need to consider to deliver business benefits from a Contagious Culture change.

A Contagious Culture is when:

  • Leadership is visible and tangible

  • Staff instinctively know what is expected of them to develop loyal customers

  • Energy and pride are evident

  • Systems and processes are aligned with the culture

  • High engagement and productivity deliver bottom line benefits.

Culture can be your Achilles Heel or your competitive advantage.

When successful, it is the unique selling point (USP) that retains highly committed staff and even more importantly, it attracts and retains loyal customers. Loyal customers are so much more profitable than satisfied customers, they tell others about you. They do your marketing for you.

So what is culture? It is like a jelly. It wobbles often. It is hard to describe and difficult to grasp.

Culture describes: “how things are done around here.”

It is about behaviours. These are often rooted in and defined by values that underpin the vision and brand. Culture is created by the behaviours of those who work for you. Culture is embedded by aligning the processes and systems that you use. When leaders consistently demonstrate the culture, it grows roots and flourishes.

Many businesses focus on “what we do here.” The measures, the conversations, the agendas in fact the majority of the time is focused on tasks. This focus ignores that humans design and deliver the majority of their products and services for other humans to buy and use!

Culture change requires unwavering leadership. Some say it is the “soft” aspects of a business. In reality, culture is the hardest aspect to shape and change. It is often ignored and left in the “too difficult box” to fester and manifest its own, often unmanageable, characteristics. In our experience it is not unusual for a business culture to be toxic.

By its very nature, culture change is often difficult to measure and it can be even more difficult to demonstrate a return on investment. In our experience it can take 2 years or more to truly embed business wide culture change and begin to reap tangible benefits.

Developing a Contagious Culture

With over 20 years of experience in culture change, valuingYOU has developed the Contagious Culture model that captures the systems, processes and people activities that need to be consistently aligned and embedded to achieve a Contagious Culture.

So how do you achieve this?

Achieving a Contagious Culture

The valuingYOU change model provides a framework that helps shape and build your approach to developing a Contagious Culture. The following is a whistle stop tour of some of the activities that you will need to incorporate into your Business Case and Implementation Plan.


  • Speak to as many people as you can including: Executives, customers, staff, managers, new recruits, leavers, shareholders, external stakeholders etc - seeking answers to:

  • How would you describe the culture here?

  • How does it need to change to achieve our strategic goals?

  • Expand your reach, using an online leading edge assessment tool that identifies values to define the current culture and future culture needed to achieve the strategic goals.

  • Facilitate Executive Away days to explore and agree:

  • The current culture

  • Understand what it needs to be – link to mission, vision, brand and strategy

  • Identify what this means in terms of current costs v investment and next steps

  • Gain commitment in terms of how collectively and individually they will sponsor this change, demonstrating behavioural change

  • Agree how they will provide feedback, hold each other to account and track business wide progress.

  • Based on business benefits, measure your starting point, to be able to demonstrate progress.


  • Describe and share an inspiring vision.

  • Be very clear about changing expectations, both behavioural and task.

  • Communicate, listen and take action. Communicate, listen and take action……..

  • Involve, involve, involve – involve as many as you can to develop solutions for the changes needed. Include the vocal cynics who can influence their peers.

  • Develop skills, especially leaders and those of middle managers. They experience the greatest stress through change, managing the changing needs of their seniors and their direct reports.


  • Review processes and policies – refresh to fit with your new culture ie Recruitment, Selection and Induction; Pay and Reward; Performance Management; Customer/Supplier chain; Personal Development; PR; Marketing; Decision Making; Roles and Responsibilities; Talent Management ……..


  • Evaluate, review, refresh. How are you progressing towards achieving the business benefits?

  • What symbols can you introduce to demonstrate the culture you are striving for? Examples include: messages on foot prints on the floor; screen savers; desk drops with appropriate inspiring messages and a snack. Be creative, involve staff and customers.

  • Encourage business wide feedback. Upskill everyone to be able to share best practice and provide 1to1 feedback – see our earlier article on WOW Conversations ©.

  • And please don’t to forget to recognise and celebrate success along your journey.

Keen to explore further? Then please do contact us at

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