Company culture seems to be a widely circulated term, but one that few people clearly understand. Culture is the ‘good stuff” in an organization that makes individuals work harder, more enthusiastically, with honest direct communication, which translates into peak performance. It may be defined as: a company’s values, practices, beliefs, language or simply the way of thinking that exists in an organization. If you want to be a truly successful and innovative company, culture must be a daily focus in your organization.
Common Elements of a Company with Great Culture:
- People that debate vigorously and are free to disagree in order to find the best answers. Once the course of action is identified, all are united behind the joint decision with sincere cooperation, regardless of self-interest.
- High expectations and standards of performance that are consistently raised to ensure you recruit and retain the right people. The old adage that “people are your most important asset” is wrong. The right people are your most important asset.
- People at all levels display enthusiasm.
- Clear vision, goals, and action plans are in place that are constantly refined and reviewed.
- Individuals and departments are encouraged to take risks and try new approaches. Success is met with individual recognition and company celebrations.
An organization can have tremendous leaders and employees with great talent and still suffer from incremental decay. The realization is shocking because the weakening usually occurs over a period of time and is hidden amongst success. It may also occur when an organization is growing so fast that the focus is only on the that. While the leaders and key employees are using a great business strategy to achieve goals, the culture can trump the strategy and prevent the result that is needed.
Five Signs of Cultural Decay
- Attitude – Employees may see a company as many different teams instead of everyone being on the same team. Employees take a “we” and “them” attitude.
- No career path – It is important to have employees that are looking to learn, be part of something bigger and feel progress. Employees need to see their position and future position in the company as one that is moving forward, instead of working in a static job and environment.
- Poor employee development – Slow to fire for attitude (i.e. 30+ days) or for performance (i.e. 90+ days): putting up with poor attitude or performance sends the message to everyone that it is acceptable.
- Declining morale – Without morale, the attempt to achieve will not occur. People need to feel hope and encouragement in order to give it all they have.
- No communication about the strategy – Rumors keep employees from working hard and smart, the rumor mill over runs the future. Employees either end-up not knowing where the organization is going or worse, they do not care.
Changing the culture within your company can be a slow process but a rewarding one. Everyone must be committed to the plan and make it a priority now. Your team, your customers and the overall company performance will benefit from the added focus.
Tools to Change Culture:
- Clean house. Poor attitude and/or performance only serves to “poison the well.”
- Start setting standards in job descriptions and weekly results. (Have a method of tracking progress on special projects and ongoing deliverables.)
- Plan celebrations and surprises along the way.
- Stick with the vision no matter what. Quitting is not an option.
- Pick projects early where success can come quicker and is more easily seen.
Norm Brodsky says it best when he says, “The most important job a leader has is to make sure that a culture is created within a company. What you do for your employees, how you treat employees, how you treat customers, it’s all part of culture. Money isn’t the most driving force. When you have a warm, nurturing culture people like, they’ll stay with you.”
But like changing the water in a fish tank, when you change the culture, you need to make sure you do not kill the employees by changing the temperature too quickly or leaving any residue of Windex® in the tank. So, when you change, change carefully and slowly.
Ask yourself these questions:
Does your organization have a supportive, nurturing culture that makes employees WANT to be there?
Are your leaders great at developing your organization’s culture?
How are you actively teaching, training and coaching your people to build and reinforce the culture you desire?
If you need help creating and cultivating your organizational or team culture, give our expert guides a call at 1-800-786-4332 or email Candace at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about culture programs at Applied Vision Works click here to read our White Paper, “Does Your Culture Support Success?”