5 Considerations to Create a Cultural Identity Worth Tattooing

What would a tattoo of your organization’s logo say about the person wearing it?

Think about this for a moment.

Because what it says is representative of your organization’s personality, reputation, brand, and identity.

And while choosing to be employed by your organization, your employees are in essence tattooed with your logo. They assume, contribute to and represent this identity in both their personal and professional lives. Now I ask you, how do they assume and represent this identity? With gusto and pride, shruggish nonchalance or skittish shame and awkward dis-ease?

This is organizational culture fit - the alignment (or lack thereof) of one’s self-identity with the organization’s identity.

Think Harley Davidson for a moment. What would a Harley Davidson tattoo say about the person wearing it?

Cool, rugged individualism, promise for the open road, (safe) rebellion…

Consider a few of Harley Davidson’s taglines:

  • “Ride among us”
  • “Proud of our heritage and individuality”
  • “One big happy (very cool) family”

Many people actively choose to literally tattoo themselves with the Harley Davidson logo. And I would suggest the secret sauce lies in the extraordinary combination of individualism and belonging to a group (us, our heritage, family.) Their identity provides the best of both worlds: self-actualization within a community.

(In alignment with this, each Harley-Davidson dealership has its own shop logo with a design that says something about that dealership and sets it apart from every other dealership in the world.)

5 Considerations to Create a Cultural Identity Worth Tattooing:

1) Know your identity. If you struggled to answer the tattoo question, fill in the following blanks:

We are the type of organization who...

We are known for...

We are an organization who stands for...

We stand against...

2) Be intentional in encouraging both individualism as well as belonging to the group.

3) Leverage human nature. As an organization, you are a conscious community committed to a purpose. As social creatures, we participate in conscious communities because we want:

  • To believe in and participate in a purpose bigger than ourselves
  • A sense of fellowship and emotional intimacy
  • A sense of belonging and inclusion
  • An opportunity to meaningfully contribute to both members of the community as well as to non-members
  • Our individual contribution to be magnified and more impactful through the group
  • A sense of recognition, meaning and/or status – feeling one matters

Evaluate how your organization fulfills on these basic desires.

4) Carefully consider your group context – examine your (spoken and unspoken) agreements, commitments, guiding principles and rules of engagement.

  • What’s allowed and not allowed?
  • Who gets to be a member? Who doesn’t?
  • What are you a stand for?
  • What are you a stand against?
  • What are your guidelines for working together?
  • What’s your common language, colors, creeds, secret handshake, fight song?

5) Don’t force it. When it’s a fit, it’s a fit. Notice the Harley Davidson identity does not require compliance, conformity, coercion, nor dependency. When it’s a good culture fit you don’t have to manipulate or mandatorily require your employees to participate.

Looking for more ways to hone your cultural identity? Check out Culture Works. Also available on Amazon.


Culture Works

With Culture Works in your hands you’ll know exactly how, and what to do to manage your workplace culture.
No other workplace culture book empowers you to take on workplace challenges like the researched and proven 8 Critical Factors found in Culture Works.
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