Company culture is the shared values and practices of the company's employees. It has been shown that those with an adaptive culture which is aligned to business goals routinely outperform competitors. But why is that? And how difficult is it to manage your company’s culture? There shouldn’t be any dispute to the fact that an organization is a living, breathing organism. Logically as employees leave, replacements are hired, some are promoted, etc… the climate changes. If left unattended it can grow into any number of possible outcomes. Some outcomes could be good, and some detrimental to the overall business mission.
Which is why, on any scale it’s important to assess, determine the desired outcome, and align the company culture to its strategic goals. When you identify the current state of being, try to remove yourself from the situation, don’t make it personal. It isn’t a reflection on YOU as a leader, manager or business owner in a personal way, read what is being written about the company, talk to employees, and look around. What are the common behaviors that employees share? What are their common gripes, what do they do especially well? How do they work as a team? What are your customers saying? Now that you have a clear understanding of what it IS, it’s time to determine what you would like it to be.
Of course there are an infinite number of possible outcomes and cultures to choose from. What is most important to your organization? Strong leadership, mission clarity, innovativeness, adaptability, the possibilities are truly endless – but what it means to your specific organization is what is most important.
Aligning the desired culture to the company’s mission and goals then acting on it could be the hardest task of all. Communication, creating change, and sticking to it can be very difficult. Especially ensuring that any new employees are a culture fit, so that you don’t harm what you have already built can be a challenge.
In the end, creating a productive, efficient and happy environment for employees and a profitable one for the business is a hard and sometimes uncomfortable mission. Be prepared to make changes that may not seem comfortable at first but that will go a long way in the overall atmosphere and culture of the workplace. Four suggestions from a blog on Forbes are:
- Abandon your reliance on the money for time contract with your workforce - Most of your employees are giving you more time than you’re paying for anyway.
- Embrace the idea of allowing your employees to work remotely (when appropriate) – Never has such a simple perk been more appreciated and in this day and age, it’s not a rarity but more of an assumption that it would be allowed.
- Be willing to let your hair down once in awhile - If your people always have their nose to the grindstone you get their time, you get their consistent efforts, but that’s all you get.
- The “why” is more important than most people recognize - People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Business leaders who can successfully articulate the vision of their company (the why) are better able to create a culture where their people can buy in and meaningfully contribute.