Just as a beautifully landscaped yard at home won’t stay that way if you don’t maintain it, the same can be said for an organizational culture of development.

In this final post in the series Building a Culture of Development we’ll discuss how to sustain that carefully crafted culture (for a visual of the Development culture framework, see my post here).

No culture perpetuates itself without some continual effort. As an organization grows and as leadership changes occur, a culture can slowly erode from what was originally intended. What we want to avoid is slipping back into old ways simply because it’s the path of least resistance and allowing other “priorities” to creep in that are “more important” than the development of our people.

A good place to start is to ask these three questions:

  • What problem(s) were we trying to solve?
  • Did we solve those problems, or at least make significant progress?
  • How do we know if we’re making progress?

Beyond these initial questions, you can conduct a short sustainability analysis as presented below in Figure 1:

Figure 1:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 4.36.52 PM

Other key measures that can help make the case for continued progress might include: leadership positions filled internally, candidate to hire ratio, retention statistics, engagement survey scores, the frequency and quality of development conversations, productivity and quality measures, to name a few.

Once you’ve conducted your sustainability analysis, then the next step is to review the results of your analysis with your executives and determine the priorities for any changes needed to keep the culture of development alive and growing. I have found that periodically bringing this type of data, along with specific, actionable recommendations to the executives’ attention provides for a very rich dialogue on the organization’s people strategy and showcases the strategic perspective of the person(s) leading this analysis and review.

The creation and continual review of a strong development culture will require a long-term commitment and a willingness to take a couple steps forward and maybe an occasional step back as we keep trying new approaches to tackle a difficult challenge. However, when we and others see the outcome—a stronger, deeper bench of engaged talent, it will suddenly feel like it was worth every minute of the journey.