What’s your company’s culture, really? Company culture is inevitable. Every place humans exist so does some presence of culture. From your home to your local grocery store, from our West Michigan community to your company’s working environment, culture exists. And in the business world, culture can make or break an organization. Your culture matters!
Before we make your culture count, let’s be clear on what it actually means. I find that Gotham Culture says it best, stating, “Organizational culture is defined as the underlying beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of interacting that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.” Now, let’s take this knowledge and make it work for your organization.
3 Ways to Make Culture Meaningful
#1: Be Human!
Often, as leaders and managers, we focus on the science of business, dealing with tasks, results, numbers, and clockwork repetition. As we focus on these vital pieces, we forget about the art in what we do. The danger in a science-heavy organization is that we aren’t machines. This science-oriented attention creates an emotionless, hollow environment that is missing important elements of humanity and a purpose bigger than the bottom line.
As the human element disappears from the equation of your organization, be prepared for a number of potential consequences, such as lower retention, disgruntled employees, less creativity, lack of support, lower productivity, attendance issues, customer complaints, and countless more. Many of these issues can be avoided by balancing the art and science of business. And unfortunately, many companies have lost sight of the art. So, be human!
#2: Define It, Live it, and Protect It
Your culture already exists. The personality is there, it just needs to be uncovered. So, it’s best to start by defining it. In order to define it, you will need to know Who you are, Why you are, and What you are as an organization.
- The Who: Be clear about Core Values, those most admirable traits that define your organization’s personality.
- The Why: Be clear about your purpose, cause, or passion as an organization.
- The What: Be clear about your niche, what you do better than anyone else.
When you have the Who, Why, and What you can begin to crystallize the environment you want, and then live it. To fully live it, your company will have to manage employee behaviors based on the guiding set of principles, also known as your Core Values. Do this by hiring, firing, rewarding, and recognizing based upon your Core Values. You cannot let your Values become a dusty poster in the lobby; make them a tool used to get the behaviors you want.
Lastly, you need to protect your company culture. Your leadership team needs to hold one another accountable for living those values. Don’t allow for double standards; you have to walk the talk. This is key because as your leadership team goes, so goes the rest of the organization.
And with fervor, hold those values tight and take it seriously when they are disrespected.
#3: Fill It to the Brim with the Right People
Once your Core Values are defined and you are clear on your organization’s purpose, cause, or passion, you can begin to more effectively find the right people for your organization. The right people will live your Core Values and contribute to the culture you have worked so hard to build. The more “right people” you have in your organization, the stronger your company culture will be. This, in turn, will begin to shed light on those who are rowing in the opposite direction.
Knowing that culture is inevitable, you have to make it work for you.
What other choice do you have?
A big thank you to Grace VanDenBrink for all your help with this article!
- Reach out to Know Honesty
- Take the Organization Checkup survey to see where your business is at.