Culture matters more than ever; in fact, culture drives the actions that can (and will) impact your brand’s reputation. Employees are improvising and making decisions in situations they’ve never seen before. They can’t always fall back on policies, playbooks or precedent. Sometimes, all they have are the norms and values formed by your culture.

Culture matters more than ever; in fact, culture drives the actions that can (and will) impact your brand’s reputation. Employees are improvising and making decisions in situations they’ve never seen before. They can’t always fall back on policies, playbooks or precedent. Sometimes, all they have are the norms and values formed by your culture.

In times of crisis, brands that stick to their core values will have the guidance they need to maintain a strong culture and respond well.

LISTEN. STRETCH. EXCEL. APPRECIATE.

We call our core values the Madison Ways, and they decide everything we do – especially now. They’re the heart of our culture and the essence of our brand’s character. And they, more than anything, will see us through the coming months. Maybe they could help you too.

LISTEN. Leadership in times of crisis requires trust, which begins with empathy and respecting the needs of employees and clients alike. What we hear is that they’re looking to us for stability and answers. From the beginning, we’ve focused on listening to clients, anticipating their needs (spoken and unspoken) and responding with help. We’ve always had a proactive culture – now it’s operating in overdrive.

STRETCH. We’re counting on our employees more than ever – their initiative and ingenuity, their willingness to take on responsibility, their ability to find new ways to serve our clients. So, we’re repaying their trust with more empowerment and pushing them to come to us with new solutions. This crisis is actually an opportunity for us all to come out stronger on the other side.

EXCEL. If we’re going to be good at anything over the coming weeks, we’d better be good at communication. Our culture and performance depend on being aligned, accurate and informed. And our clients depend on us to get things right the first time; they already have enough to worry about. We aim to be consistent, transparent, clear, frequent, and (most of all) honest in all of our internal and external interactions.

APPRECIATE. We value our team members and take every opportunity to show how much they matter to us and to each other. Cultural rituals still matter, even the silly ones. Maybe especially those. We use an instant messaging program to post pics of our home work spaces, pets, kids, babies and anything else that might provide a morale boost. We also bring the team together once a week on video conference to recognize great work, talk about any issues and honestly…just chat.

Your culture – and your brand – will be shaped by this crisis as much as your culture shapes your response. (In a recent Gallup poll, 53% of employees said greater work-life balance and personal well-being are important to their job choice. When this is over, that number will seem low.) The better you manage your culture now, the better you can serve your customers through difficulties and the stronger your brand will be later on.