This article is one in a series reporting on key sessions at LMA Fest 2022, Aug. 16-18 in Chicago. The session highlighted here featured Mark Briggs, vice president of innovation and organization effectiveness for SmithGeiger and author of The Butterfly Impact: Resilience, Resets, and Ripples. Briggs discussed ways to innovate your culture and develop engaging leaders now and into the future.

“One of the bigger companies out there that I know, has a spreadsheet that has a possible acquisition list of top industry talent,” said Mark Briggs, vice president of innovation and organization effectiveness for SmithGeiger, setting the stage for where the media industry is with retention.


“Over half of the people on the list that covered a recent five-year period had left the industry. We’re at an inflection point. Let’s call it the great reshuffling,” he said. “This burdens us with recruiting and retention. … If you can harness an inflection point, you can ride a wave to change on a massive scale. That’s our opportunity.”

Finding and retaining top talent is a competitive edge. On the other hand, toxic culture is a far stronger predictor of attrition, adjusting for industry, and is 10 times more important than compensation in predicting turnover. The stress and challenges of the pandemic changed managing forever; adding insult to injury, the bar for what defines “toxic culture” has dropped even lower. In short, this means managers’ jobs are 10 times harder in 2022.

With that in mind:

  • Managers want help addressing burnout.
  • Managers are looking for better ways to know which team members need support and when.
  • Managers want to help their people grow and, more importantly, stay.
  • Old maps don’t apply to new worlds (attributed to Darren Murph, head of remote at GitLab).

Briggs asked, “Are you training your leaders for the new world? Are you even training your leaders at all? Or investing in them? These are the things that keep talent engaged, makes them want to come on board. It’s where our real opportunity for innovation presents itself.”

Briggs defined “innovation” as our human ability to change for the better: It inspires people to experiment, learn and grow.

As a simple way to take action toward innovation, Briggs suggested taking on a project around culture change: Commit to a long-term project. Pick a name for the project. Define the culture you’d like to see. Think about building that culture for the next three to five years. What would it take? Then develop a 12-month plan.

To implement your newly-defined culture, you’ll need to align three levels to learn and lead effectively:

  • Measure and engage: You need a listening strategy to surface challenges and opportunities. Asking is key.
  • Power problem-solving: Build a process to prioritize and attack the biggest culture challenges, just three to five things. Identify a group of five to 10 key leaders to manage this transformation for the entire enterprise. Measure outcomes and progress.
  • Build your best team: Embrace the opportunity of conflict and leverage difficult conversations to build trust. Create a culture of psychological safety. Help leaders manage the workplace. For strong psychological safety, all teams need time to bond. Be vigilant with accountability and measurement to create a way to track continuous improvement, because difficult conversations build trust.

In short, to quote culture expert Jen Dulski, CEO of Rising Team: “Invest in their humanity, just as you invested in their flexibility.”

A defined culture is a great recruitment tool, and LinkedIn is a strong platform for spreading the word about both your culture and openings. When using LinkedIn, be aware that the golden hour is the first hour after posting. If you can generate 10 comments on a post in the first 24 hours you will receive an additional 1,000 views, according to author Richard Bliss. For posts to perform, write over 200 words, and three to five hashtags. LinkedIn has also started to mimic Instagram, so a picture can be very powerful. Optimize LinkedIn usage by:

  • Forming a LinkedIn “tiger team” to take responsibility and tag team the posting effort.
  • Creating an editorial calendar: Develop three to four types of posts and divvy up the work with the tiger team.

Overall, when it comes to culture improvement, small changes can make big ripples.