We’ve touched on the definition of corporate culture and discussed the symptoms of a poor culture, as well as the pitfalls of running a business that suffers from a lack of culture. But now we’ll start to address how to build a strong and inclusive culture to support your business.
What a Thriving Culture Looks Like
When an organization’s purpose or culture is robust, its words and actions are aligned. Its values are aligned. Employees and stakeholders understand that management will mete out suitable consequences for disreputable behavior – no matter the level of employee. And appropriate behavior results in the type of acknowledgment applicable. Structures are in place that everyone comprehends because there is clear communication. There are realistic work plans and goals instead of unreasonably high quotas that cannot be met safely. Continuous performance management is a consistent and reliable means of ensuring a harmonious and productive workplace. But where to start?
How to Build a Culture
Communication is the integral component to building a hardy culture. To understate the importance of open and honest communication is an invitation to eventual disaster. Communicating involves employee engagement, which builds trust in management. This in turn creates confidence in the process. Creating an atmosphere of respect where employees feel respected and are treated with respect leads to their feeling appreciated. Think of communication as the pebble that ripples out farther than where that pebble is thrown into a body of water. The company’s message – its culture – will touch more people than hear that initial missive.
Without strong leadership, though, clear communication is likely to become muddled. Leaders are the primary drivers of culture – its change as well as its sustainability. Leaders must define and display their organization’s values to influence their employees. Actions speak louder than words, which is just another way of communicating. No worker will trust management if they say one thing and do something disparate.
When leaders prescriptively set and reinforce the company’s values, there is a higher probability those employees will emulate the same values not only in their assigned work, but also when they communicate with others about the company. Those values must be relevant to the work employees are tasked with, however. A company, for example, cannot merely state they are devoted to diversity when their work force is homogeneous.
Recognizing performance, as most of us are intimately aware, affects the way we do our jobs. Recognition is a powerful influencer of behavior, so performance management is key to this being a successful step in building culture. Haphazard awareness of laudable achievements will backfire and is not in alignment with an organization’s stated tenets if they are defining a hearty culture. Consistent affirmation is yet another way of communicating that gets noticed.
Becoming a Learning Organization
Accountability is instrumental in defining, shaping, displaying, and communicating company culture. A business’s leadership must be held as equally accountable as its workers. Running a successful business involves myriad components that must be addressed, introduced, and managed. That organization must also continue to evolve. Being and remaining aware of what is required to lead a prosperous business into the future in a sustainable way is a skill that can be learned, but only if leaders are themselves open to evolving.
I’d love to discuss how to help frame your company’s culture.