While your company is unique, the most effective culture for your workplace will likely share many of the same characteristics.
- Shared, clear, and stated core values that align with how work is actually done exist and are expressed daily. One thing all healthy workplace cultures exhibit is a set of clear, shared core values. What does your company value? Is there a premium on innovation and creativity, candor, or work/life balance? You’ll know what the core values within your organization are by observing the behaviors and interactions that are most rewarded. For example, perhaps a stated value is relationship-building or putting colleagues and customers first, but you repeatedly see an aggressive co-worker who gets results at the expense of relationships being promoted through the ranks. In this case, the stated values aren’t what’s really valued. To bring coherence to your culture and teams, take a detective’s view of what’s really happening. Then, if there’s a disconnect, you can begin the intentional process of realigning reward systems and communication with what you want them to be, ensuring that what you say and do match.
- Open communication exists across departments and levels within the company. Throughout communication and interactions, employees within the company experience transparency. Employees are kept in the loop about decisions that impact their work and are treated with respect. Likewise, the interactions and messages experienced across the organization are holistic and consistent, meaning they apply to all employees and at all times and are aligned with who the company believes and says it is. For example, in healthy organizations, inclusion is more than a buzz word. Mechanisms to ensure all employees are connected, valued, and able to do their best work are embedded throughout all internal processes and systems, ensuring that not only is inclusion valued and espoused, it’s operationalized. The culture needs to go from the top to the bottom. Everyone needs to be held to the same standards.
- The culture and the business fit. There’s (thankfully) no one size fits all culture. Hello, 1984. Different cultures are suitable for different industries, and different customers. Banking is a traditionally a conservative business, whereas a tech company would struggle to find the right employees if the same expectations (and regulations!) were in place. Your workplace culture must align to and support your business type, customers, and employees, creating a symbiotic ecosystem that causes all participants to thrive.
- Employees grow and thrive. I haven’t met a colleague whose dream is to work at the same job for the rest of their lives. Healthy cultures are intentional about finding opportunities to help your employees progress forward in life. For example, each people manager should know and understand employees’ goals, whether it’s to learn a new software program, move into a sales job, or become an executive down the road. Companies with the highest performing cultures believe and live out support employees in the pursuit of their goals.
With these few items in mind, spend the next few days considering how you see (or don’t see) them in your organization. If something’s missing, what should you do to address it? Think about how you would implement a change. What do you think would work best for you, your employees, and your customers? In any exercises of this nature, it’s wise to enlist outside help to ensure you’re thinking broadly. Take that first step towards aligning and strengthening your culture, and I promise you’ll quickly see a difference in both the day to day, and your long-term results.
This is the second part in a multi-part series about culture. Check in next week to carry continue the conversation!