Building Cultures Through Powerful Moments

A Review of Gallup’s Series on Institutional and Interpersonal Moments

Building an engaging organizational culture and employee experience can often seem like an abstract goal. In their recent two-part series, Gallup’s Jake Herway details two types of employee experiences that make or break an organization’s ability to engage employees: institutional moments and interpersonal moments.

“Institutional moments” are HR functions throughout the employee lifecycle that greatly impact the employee experience.

These are things like on-boarding, performance management, promotions, and training and development opportunities. Powerful institutional moments can make people feel aligned to the organization’s goals and mission, and as a result, increase feelings of engagement and connection. When done poorly, however, these moments leave people feeling unsupported and left out.

“Interpersonal moments” include times in which employees propose a new idea, ask for help, push back, or ask for a favor.

Each of these moments requires a display of authenticity and vulnerability. When vulnerability is received positively, it reinforces a sense of belonging in the organization and enhances organizational culture. When received negatively, ignored, or mocked, these moments lead to disengagement and contribute to cultural toxicity.

Whether it be institutional or interpersonal, leaders are the most important people responsible for modeling and facilitating moments that lead to engaging cultures, accounting for 70% of the difference in employee engagement according to Gallup.

Leaders must have the skill and competence to build and scale institutional moments across the employee lifecycle. Similarly, the tone they set with their employees influences the tenor of the rest of the organization, and their behaviors model the accepted and encouraged way to treat others. To create strong interpersonal moments, leaders must truly care about their people and seek out connection to create a sense of belonging and engagement.

At ADVISA, we plot this combination of interpersonal and institutional moments, referred to as the Connection and Competence model. Only when leaders are both technically competent and able to connect with their people do team members feel a sense of belonging and connection to the company and its goals, thereby achieving trust.

Connection and Competence Model


Despite the power of these moments, organizations often focus too heavily on the competence aspect of this spectrum, creating forms and systems for leaders to work within, but fail to teach leaders skills necessary for self-awareness, relationship development, coaching, and change management. This means that, despite our institutional efforts, much of the time, we leave it up to chance whether our employees will feel truly cared for.

Organizations who invest in leadership proactively from early on in the leadership journey, however, have leaders who develop self-awareness, and the skills to more authentically engage others, leading healthy cultures that regularly generate positive interpersonal and institutional moments.

Learn more about building leaders who can create and scale cultures of belonging and engagement through ADVISA’s Leadership Journey, designed for leaders at every level—from emerging leaders to managers and seasoned executives.