Culture – what does it mean to you? When you hear the word “culture” does it seem over-used and just a buzz word with little to no weight? Or does culture mean everything to you, your department, your company? Ask yourself these questions and reflect and analyze your responses to see how important it is to you.
Ironically as I was writing this post, I took an online management test and the results provided me a couple great ideas on ways to increase a more positive culture in my own work environment. It is these seeds that we learn, that we plant and cultivate, which become strong traits and business practices to help make us all become better managers.
Take a moment and read the article below highlighting five ways to create a positive and engaging culture and reflect on the ideas presented and if they apply or can be implemented in your work environment. I also added a couple small ideas or thoughts (in italics).
I hope you are able to come away with new ideas or seeds to cultivate positive change and progress within your own business culture. It can take some hard work, but with time you will experience success and results.
How to Create a Winning Company Culture
By Kat Boogaard
When you think about building a team or company where employees are engaged, motivated, and excited to stick around for a while, there’s likely one word you’ve heard again and again: culture. And for good reason—the vibe of your office and the people who come to work there every day has a huge impact on your happiness, and your overall success.
But, fostering a vibrant and cohesive culture doesn’t happen overnight—and it certainly doesn’t happen by accident. So, let’s dive into everything you need to know about company culture—including how you can cultivate a positive one within your own organization.
Why Is Culture Such a Big Deal?
The best way to think about culture? It’s the personality of your company. Culture culminates your organization’s mission, values, and beliefs to form the overarching spirit of your workplace as a whole. And, much like with people, personality matters.
Culture has proven to directly correlate with a number of factors that are important to both employers and employees alike.
Take employee retention, for example. A Columbia University study discovered that the likelihood of turnover at companies with rich cultures is a mere 13.9 percent. At companies with poor company cultures? It’s a whopping 48.4 percent.
Job satisfaction is another key component. Understandably, employees who believe their workplaces have a positive culture are much happier in their careers—which is beneficial for everyone when you consider that happy employees are 12 percent more productive than the average worker.
How to Foster a Winning Company Culture
And while the perks of a positive culture are numerous, that doesn’t mean that you can close your eyes, click your heels together, and have it all magically fall into place.
Like anything else, cultivating a great culture requires conscious thought, planning, and effort. Here’s what you can do to establish a winning work environment within your own company.
Define Your Culture
It all starts with outlining the exact culture you want to foster. Do you want a laid back and casual work environment? A fast-paced and high-energy office where there’s a lot of drive to innovate and excel? An emphasis on professional development? Or, a focus on giving back to the community?
Figure out the values and elements that are important to your company. And, all employees should be invited to participate in this conversation so they can provide insights into the way your workplace is perceived. Plus, they deserve a say in how this takes shape, since they’re the ones who work within your culture day in and day out.
But once you have the culture that you want defined, you don’t get to sit back and watch as it takes effect. You need to make the necessary changes to actually live your culture, and lead by example.
For example, perhaps you’ve identified a supportive management style as a key pillar of your desired culture. From regularly scheduled one-on-ones to plenty of formal and informal feedback sessions, how will you instill that concept into daily life for your entire team?
Defining your culture is really only the first step—you need to be prepared to act on the values that you’ve outlined.
I Power Seed
Lead by example and have a clear and defined culture. Meet with your team routinely to keep reinforcing it. We know change can be difficult for some and the consistent and positive reinforcement of the changes will help ensure successful results.
Reward and Recognize
There’s nothing like a pat on the back for a job well done—and that holds true for employees of all ranks and departments. Showing genuine appreciation for the hard work that team members put in makes them feel valued and respected, critical for employee satisfaction.
While formal rewards and recognition programs are great, this should be a value that’s pervasive throughout your entire office, to create a culture of appreciation and encourage team work.
Even if it’s a compliment passed from one employee to another or a piece of praise from a superior, remember that recognition doesn’t need to be formal to be effective. The more these sorts of commendations become commonplace, the more positive and supportive your whole environment will be.
I Power Seed
When I receive an email giving praise about one of my employees, I send it with note from me to the entire department. I see it as when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. And when one of us gets a compliment, we are all part in some way to their individual success and we should all share. I have received many compliments in doing this.
I also like to give little rewards as it adds a little fun in our everyday busy work days. For example, I send out a weekly dashboard regarding our tech tickets and for fun at the very bottom of it, I put in small font and in an obscure way a message that said if they are ‘reading this, let me know and come get your prize’. I wanted to see if anyone was really reading the dashboard data. And sure enough, someone did and they got a nice bag full of goodies.
Everybody wants to be productive in the office. But, not too many people actively seek out a culture that’s all work and absolutely no play.
When you spend so much time with your colleagues during any given week, it’s natural (and even encouraged!) to want to get to know them on a personal level outside of the office.
This is why some of the liveliest and most vibrant cultures encourage plenty of social interaction amongst their employees—whether it’s kickball leagues, holiday parties, game nights, or even a company-sponsored retreat or getaway.
If you aren’t in a position to institute a company-wide event or tradition, get an impromptu happy hour on the calendar with some of your team members. Any sort of fun outing with your co-workers will strengthen your bonds and lead to a positive, close-knit culture.
I Power Seed
This was actually on the online management test I took recently and it asked if you knew a name of an immediate family member for each of your employees. Everyone one of us wants some level of privacy in our work place, but I also know that we like to feel our managers or leaders care about us above and beyond just getting work done. Having an after work social or casual lunch goes a long way. These social events, and they can be short and informal, provide a great opportunity to lower guards and learn a little about each other. They do take work as not everyone wants to participate. I tend to do them in the middle of the day such as a lunch or ice cream social. I have even had a catered lunch and watched a movie. They honestly appreciate it.
Some of the most beloved company cultures have at least one thing in common: they all make sure that employees are able to take care of themselves—both inside the office and out.
In today’s constantly-connected society, there’s much less separation between our work and personal lives. And organizations with thriving cultures empower their employees to bring their whole, authentic selves to work, while doing their best to maintain their health and happiness.
Whether it’s a reimbursed gym membership, flexible work schedules, or even the option to work remotely occasionally, companies who place their focus on results and encourage self-care tend to have happier employees who are motivated to stick around.
I Power Seed
Self-care can yield incredible results. Employees have told me time and time again how much they appreciate how flexible I am with occasional requests – letting them come in late, leave early, longer lunch, work from home, etc. – they express appreciation and gratitude and when I need them to stay late or come in early, they don’t even hesitate. They also tend to put in extra effort in their daily work activities. I have one employee where my management style was not something she was used to in previous jobs and with this culture she is now a rock star.
Nobody wants to feel like just another cog in a wheel. To establish a winning culture within your own company, you need to be able to help employees look beyond their immediate to-do list and understand the greater purpose they’re serving.
Maybe your team members are motivated by knowing how their work contributes to the organization as a whole. Or, maybe your staff finds involvement in various charity and community efforts particularly inspiring.
The important thing is to encourage people to step outside themselves and see the forest—instead of just the trees.
I Power Seed
This is another really good point. If there is no sense of purpose, the “why am I here”, then they are not engaged and don’t perform the best they can – no skin in the game (my wife hates when I say that). I really emphasize that in my team. Recently I conducted an exercise where I asked my tech team to take a list of organizational goals (these were non-technical goals) and prioritize them. It was interesting for them to see what the “global” purposes of the organization were and how they can be part of it. Having that knowledge and understanding of a global purpose helps them understand the goals and how they can help attain them.
One look at the numerous benefits and it becomes obvious that company culture is irrefutably important, but knowing how to establish and foster one within your own company can be daunting.
The important thing to remember is that culture isn’t something that just happens . It takes work and active participation—from both employers and employees. When both band together in the interest of living your company’s values, you’re sure to end up with a winning work environment.
I hope you enjoyed the article and seeds. Good luck with cultivating the culture you want for your team.
Please leave comments or share your thoughts or experiences.