Over the course of a lifetime, we’ll work an average of 90,000 hours. That’s a lot of time on the job, so shouldn’t it at least be enjoyable? Sadly, a poor organisational culture can put a real damper on employee satisfaction, productivity and wellbeing. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
If your think your workplace could use a bit of a pick-me-up, then here are five ways to start building company culture:
1. Walk the talk
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
Start leading by example. Take a good look at your business’s core values and apply them to your everyday actions. As a leader, you are in a unique position to set the tone of your workplace. Your actions will influence others and, over time, the culture of your workplace. The higher up you are the more visible and transparent your actions. People watch what you do, and what you don’t do, what you deal with, and what you let slip - and work out what really matters. So if you want to make your culture important you as the leader have to do it first.
“Leaders who are more inspiring and more engaging get better results,” says Greg Allnutt, a business strategist and high performance leadership coach at Advisory.Works.
“To become more inspiring and engaging, every leader needs to lead by example and create trust. They need to talk and relate to their people and connect them with the vision and values of the business. This should be a blend of one-on-ones and one-to-manys; but they need to get out there and are be a little bit more extroverted,” Greg says.
Communication is the backbone to every successful business, leader and employee. Without it leadership is muted, deadlines get missed, budgets blown, expectations becomes a far cry from reality and business values and goals are set adrift in forgotten corners of the company cloud.
Communication comes in a range of forms—from everyday emails to your company’s strategic vision. When done well, it can go a long way to reducing stress, lifting morale, boosting productivity, and of course, growing your culture.
“A large part of your communication should be about getting people used to hearing the language surrounding your core values and purpose,” says Greg. “We have clients who have monthly celebrations to recognise and reward staff. For us at Advisory.Works, we finish every meeting with each participant sharing a story about a staff member who has represented one of our values.”
3. Match your desired culture and values
Work to align your organisational culture to your core values—and vice versa. Behavioural values statements set the the expected behaviours that underpin our desired culture and shape the way in which people approach their work and each other. These statements can be slightly aspirational to shift the expectations from what you are to what you could and should be.
“One professional services firm I work with has values such as “Think outside the square”, “Bring your A game” and “Get the best result”,” says Greg. “So when they are searching for talent, the candidates who apply are people who like doing that. Once they’ve joined and are recognised and acknowledged for upholding those values, it’s great. It becomes self perpetuating and permeates through everything the firm does.”
4. Bring meaning back to the table
If you’re finding productivity has dropped off, it might be time to remind your employees why they matter. Start with your company’s mission and vision. What is the core purpose of your company? Does it have a future goal that you are all striving for?
“When you have people who are genuinely connected to the purpose and the direction of an organisation, they enjoy coming into work because it ‘spins their wheels’, they feel they are able to directly contribute to making a difference in the organisation,” says Greg.
The next part is helping staff to understand the part they play in achieving that vision or goal. How? Tell stories.
“Telling stories is one of the best ways to connect your staff with the part they have to play in achieving your vision,” says Greg.
The stories don’t need to be big picture either. Small things, such as acknowledging staff for their contribution toward the overarching goal or for upholding a particular company value, go a long way.
5. Hire staff who fit your culture
A good organisational culture can do a lot to help you retain your staff. A Great Place to Work survey found that employees who have a good organisational culture are 13 times more likely to say they wanted to work at that company for a long time. To help you speed the process along, make sure you hire candidates who are a good fit for your organisational culture.
“The that important thing about culture is that it determines who fits, because culture determines behaviour. Look for fit first, then worry about skills later. Skills can be learned, behaviours are harder to change,” says Greg.
Learn how to change culture in an organisation for better business performance in our free guide, 'Organisational Culture to Enhance Productivity and Profit'.