Today a real buzzword, company culture is an idea that has been with us for a while and now it's really gaining steam in a variety of contexts ranging from corporate to small business. Research studies conducted so far present conflicting results. While some of them demonstrated that strong organizational cultures boost performance, others suggested that such cultures in fact stifle creativity and innovation, which is a prerequisite for companies operating in dynamic environments.
Still, it's worth to consider building your company culture because it simply helps in communication, collaboration and performance on a daily basis. Follow those 10 key tips to start building a truly motivating culture right now.
1. The importance of leadership
Establishing and developing a company culture is downright impossible without strong leadership that will set the example for the rest of employees. You and other executives at your companies offer models of behavior, so if you promote tardiness or lack of preparation, you can be sure that you attitude will spread onto other employees.
Great leadership is also crucial to make a group of people focus on a number of common goals – by developing a company mission and making sure that every part of your operation perfectly reflects it you'll be on your way to building a truly inspiring culture.
Communication with employees is another important aspect of culture-building. Make sure your employees are updated about the future plans of the company – this will make them feel as if they were a significant part of it. Once they feel important and needed, they will feel more inspired and engaged.
Communication is also about building a certain atmosphere at the office, where good things, accomplishments and successes are the subject of public conversation. Such positive climate will inspire employees to work even harder and share their achievements with others.
3. Be ready to recognize employees
Research is clear on that point – most workers consider recognition a major factor in their personal motivation. A significant number of employees will be ready to leave their current employer for a company that is known to recognize employee contribution.
In short, nothing works better in engaging employees than a simple recognition of their effort in realizing the company’s goals. Make sure to set up some clear rules for promoting recognition and oblige executives follow them religiously. Never disrespect your workers – after all, they're really responsible for the fate of your venture.
4. Hire people who really fit your culture
It's quite surprising, but one research study suggests that as many as 89% of hiring failures happen due to problems related to the company culture. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2012/01/23/89-of-new-hires-fail-because-of-their-attitude/) When bringing in new people to your team, you better make sure that they fit into the company culture and truly share your goals, values and principles.
How to determine whether a candidate is a right fit? When interviewing potential employees, you should learn everything you can about their working culture preferences and past experiences, at the same time clearly communicating your company culture. Look for personalities that are attracted to your culture – even if they possess great expertise, changing the whole culture for one employee isn't worth the trouble.
5. Make culture-building collective
Reach out to your employees and incorporate them into building company culture. Ask for their feedback, organize regular meetings where you present one goal related to company culture and then brainstorm together to come up with solutions to help you achieve it. This will make employees feel more involved in the life of the company and further integrate them as people with similar mindsets and work ethic.
6. Slowly scale your new culture
Many managers dream of transforming their company culture from one day to another, but once they try it, they learn that this time frame doesn't allow for achieving real effects. An insightful article from MIT Sloan Management Review points out that changing a company culture takes time. (http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/how-innovative-is-your-companys-culture/)
It's best to first pick several issues and work on introducing them to your organization. Some people don't like changes, so you might encounter resistance, undermining or even active sabotage.
Stay calm and carry on – persuade people and give encouragement to early adopters. Arrange for a group or department to employ your solutions and make sure their visibly improved performance is recognized by the entire company. Seeing others becoming more successful will push the reluctant ones to reconsider their attitudes.
7. Go for adaptability
A group of researchers from Berkeley, Santa Clara and Stanford recently delved into the issue of corporate performance and unveiled an interesting fact. Apparently, strong company cultures can work in dynamic environments after all. The only condition is that one of the employed cultural norms should be adaptability. (http://www.stybelpeabody.com/newsite/pdf/ceopersonalitycultureandfinancialperformance.pdf)
When developing your company culture, incorporate and support activities like risk-taking, new initiatives and innovative experimentation. Build a culture that favors dynamic operation and quick taking up of opportunities. Set your expectations straight, but at the same time let your employees express themselves in a wider range of behaviors and test various solutions to a problem.
8. Organize the drivers of culture
This is closely connected to the previous point about leadership. Accountability always starts at the top, so when building your company culture, aim at the executives first. Bain & Company suggests that they can channel the new culture in their gestures and leadership styles. (http://www.bain.com/Images/BB_Building_winning_culture.pdf)
Workers who are key figures at your company should have a clear idea about the values or principles involved in the new company culture. It's your job to clarify roles and accountability for key positions, as well as add performance metrics or incentives to motivate your drivers of company culture.
9. Empower your employees
A recent article from Harvard Business Review suggests that one of the most important signs of quality in a company culture of is that employees are fully responsible for their decisions and know how to judge situations that aren't included in the rulebook of your organization. (https://hbr.org/2014/04/creating-a-culture-of-quality)
How much control is too much? You should aim for an equilibrium of power here. Too much control negatively affects creativity and discretionary action of employees, but giving them not enough guidance is a mistake as well – you'll only make employees unsure about their authority as decision makers. Empower your team to help them channel the principles of your company culture.
10. Create a credible culture message
Your message about company culture simply needs to be credible. All communications should be tailored to meet the requirements of specific employee segments. A good example of a diversified company culture building is Diageo, which managed to create separate messages for 21,000 employees working for different brands in various locations. (https://hbr.org/2014/04/creating-a-culture-of-quality)
A positive company culture can bring you many benefits – a smaller turnover rate, increased employee productivity, as well as creativity and real passion. Moreover, a strong company culture impacts the engagement, motivation and inspiration of employees – it's of great value because it enables them to go that extra mile in doing their job.
Author: Torri Myler works as a Human Resources Manager at Bankopening.co.uk., a portal where you can easily check bank opening times and closing hours.