The difference between a company with a great culture and a poor one doesn’t just stop at how much your employees like coming to work or how good your Christmas parties are. Culture is integral to how your company operates on a day to day basis and it impacts on your bottom line.
A clear culture creates a guideline for how your employees are expected to behave, and once a positive workplace culture is established, it drives engagement, boosts creativity and reduces attrition. Your culture also sends a message to the world about what kind of company you are, so it’s vital that that message is the right one.
How to Create a Positive Culture
1. If you’re not sure what your culture is right now, or even what it needs to be to drive your company to greater success, then it’s time to do some brainstorming. Do your research on what a great culture looks like in other organisations, then get as many of your employees involved as possible.
Get them filling out anonymous surveys on culture; what they like, what they don’t, and how (or if) they see matters of culture impacting their job. You might want to bring in an external consultant to identify any culture issues and give constructive advice. Also host a session with your leadership team and key stakeholders, as they’re the ones that will be required to drive it. Which leads to the next point.
2. Appoint someone to be responsible for your culture revolution. This person must embody the culture you’re intending to implement. They must have the enthusiasm, respect and people skills to encourage others to invest emotionally in creating it together. Speaking of which, you need to be visibly excited about it too.
As the boss, this simply won’t work without you. Without your support and attention, your exciting culture project will just fizzle out and go back to being the indistinct, unplanned (and probably uninspiring) culture you’ve got there now. Commit.
3. Decide on a simple, easy to understand culture goal. There’s no point coming up with a worthy but woolly mission statement that will go into the HR onboarding folder and never be mentioned again, let alone lived by the workforce.
Your culture focus might be as simple as ‘collaboration’, which becomes the core guiding principle of your organisation, or ‘self-development’ if you’re chasing a learning culture. It could be ‘transparency’, ‘results-driven’, or it could be something inspirational, such as ‘passion’.
Of course you can have multiple culture goals if they are compatible, but remember, the more words you add, the more the core meaning of each one is diluted and it becomes difficult for the employees to fulfil the different requirements of culture.
4. Once you’ve established the culture goals, it’s time to communicate them widely and insist that all employees work within the set culture. There must be rewards for those who make an effort to embrace the new culture and there also need to be consequences for those who don’t. There will be an adjustment period, and you’ll have to make some allowances for that, but making continued excuses for those who refuse to be part of the culture revolution (particularly if they’re star players) only makes it seem optional for everyone else to commit to it too. You need to see this through!
It’s also absolutely vital to discuss culture in the interview process when hiring; only bring on board those who you think are genuinely in line with those values. The more new people you bring in who are already invested in the culture, the harder it will be for the existing staff to resist it. This is a natural transition.
5. Make the culture attractive. It will be much easier to build a positive culture if you create the right environment for employees to thrive. This is where the normal incentives you associate with culture come in; like a great lunch room, gym memberships, flexible working arrangements, table tennis tables, and great staff days out. We also suggest doing a big culture drive on social media as it sends the message to the world what you’re about; attracting like-minded candidates and clients to your company and thereby consolidating the culture.
Making a culture change isn’t easy, but it sure is exciting. Watching your vision for the culture take shape while navigating the challenges along the way is one of the most invigorating and rewarding things you can achieve in business. Good luck!
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