Three Questions With: Nicole Bendaly, Executive Director, Waterstone Culture Institute (Part 2)

We’re sitting down with each the senior team members at Waterstone Human Capital to find out, in their own words, what drives them and why Waterstone is North America’s top firm for helping organization build high-performance teams and cultures.

This week, we’re continuing our conversation with Nicole Bendaly, Executive Director at the Waterstone Culture Institute.

Waterstone Human Capital (WHC): How do you describe your role at the Waterstone Culture Institute (WCI)?

Nicole Bendaly (NB): My purpose is to help people thrive more and struggle less – to help people achieve even better results, greater joy and satisfaction in their work, with greater ease. I get to do that through the WCI – by building relationships with our Canada’s Most Admired nominees, by being a trusted advisor, and by helping leaders discover how they can continue building their people and building their cultures.

I also get to bring my 20-plus years of research and expertise in content to development to build programs that enable organizations to implement their people and culture plans an achieve their goals.

WHC: How does your background influence your approach?

NB: My background is in research, and in waking up for 20 years asking “what’s the difference?” What’s the difference between leaders who have built high-performance teams and whose who haven’t? What’s the difference between leaders of engaged teams and those who aren’t?  What are they doing that’s different from average leaders? So, what informs my work is that curiosity around best practices and around understanding what will enable people to thrive. I try and connect that back to my purpose of connecting that back to my purpose of helping people thrive more and struggle less. That research-based approach and that curiosity really contribute to how I approach my work today.

WHC: What advice do you have for organizations looking to go on that culture journey?

NB: Start with getting clear on three things:

  1. The current state of your culture. What are the strengths that exist today that have gotten us to where we are and that should never change? What things are core to our culture? Take the rose-coloured lenses off and see your culture through the lens of your people at every part of the organization. Measuring is a key part of that. And measuring culture is different than measuring engagement. Measuring culture means asking different questions, and that’s something we can help with at Waterstone.
  2. Get clear on what the ideal culture looks like for your organization. Know where you want to go, what your vision and our purpose are, what the challenges in the market are or will be, and is the culture that you absolutely need in order to meet those opportunities and challenges. Knowing where you need and want to be will tell you what things you need to shift from the current state to get to that ideal state. Ideally you’ll identify two or three things you’re going to shift, and not tackle everything all at once.
  3. Build your plan. Maintain your strengths, shift what needs to be shifted, and create ownership for the culture across the organizations. But before you can build a plan to really need to know what you want to change.

Culture is going to change and evolve – the key is to ensure that you’re shifting it and making changes intentionally, not allowing it to shift on its own and risk having you culture go in a direction that doesn’t align with your goals as an organization.

At Waterstone, we inspire organization to build high-performance teams and cultures through our retained executive search, cultural and human capital measurement and advisory, and high-performance leadership training services. We’d love the chance to work with you –book a meeting with our team and find out how we can help you achieve your growth and performance goals.