A company culture is a living, breathing thing. As we’ve learned in 2020, it must respond, flow and evolve with the constantly-changing world around us. While countless books cover the topic of creating an impactful company culture, it is not an exact science. There is no standard formula to follow. If anything, it’s an art.
In art, there are several guidelines, a number of suggestions but few rules. Art is created while in constant motion. The same can be said for crafting a company culture.
A dichotomy emerges when thinking about a successful company culture. Building a corporate culture is one of the hardest and yet easiest things to create. It is hard because it requires 100% of you. When I say “you,” I don’t just mean the President or CEO of a company. The “you” applies to every position at every level within the organization. For the culture to work, all must be plugged in to it.
A powerful company culture can be easy for the exact same reason. It doesn’t require a large budget, extraordinary amounts of time or extravagant events. The main keys to an effective corporate culture lies within you.
Whether you are at the top of the organizational chart or in a more supportive role, here are ways you can create a corporate culture that is everything you hope it to be.
Rarely do you leave the house with no idea where you are going. Most journeys begin with a destination in mind.
Every company needs to operate with the same principle. Each organization should have an idea of where it’s going, what it wants to accomplish and where it wants to be. When everyone sees the company vision, they have an idea of their part. Having a sense of purpose is the basis for professional motivation.
Core values should also be articulated. These help define the organization, the characteristics that are needed to succeed and the guiding principles for daily decisions. If not yet set, a diverse team of representatives throughout the organization can work together to craft these key elements for the company. The more participation in the process from various departments, the greater the buy-in, adoption and implementation of the vision.
In addition to clarifying the core values and company mission for the future, the vision of the present can’t be ignored. Seeing who surrounds you and what they are doing now is key. It requires your Presence.
Just like the important individual relationships in your life, for an effective and impactful company culture, you need to be present.
This requires more than just your physical presence. It means being in the moment, connected to the activities happening and the people there. The culture is created by being fully engaged in big events like awards ceremonies, incentive trips and holiday parties, and also connected to the smaller moments. When someone visits your office, do you keep your hands on the keyboard or do you turn your attention to them? If someone quizzed you on a few ‘fun facts’ of your colleagues, would you pass?
Team members’ measurement of their worth to the corporation depends greatly on how much you truly know about them, both about their contributions to the company as a whole and about their individual lives. For organizations that promote work/life balance, leaders should invest time to know what “balance” means to their colleagues. This knowledge will not only help you relate better with those you work but also will help you reward their contributions in ways that they’ll most appreciate.
To create a corporate culture that lasts, you must connect to the moments and the people who make it possible.
If we’ve learned anything from Instagram, too many layers and filters can distort the truth.
Provide straight-forward, regular and clear messages to your team to keep everyone on the same page. This doesn’t mean you need to sit in a circle and share your deepest and darkest secrets. It does mean that it’s vital to be clear with your internal communications, celebrating the accomplishments and sharing the challenges.
You can achieve this using several tools like print or online newsletters, the intranet, a steady email schedule, text message and organizational phone apps. Consistent communication and clarity of vision helps everyone know the direction of the company and how they can individually contribute their best towards the greater good.
To finally help those in need, even the Wizard of Oz had to come out from behind the curtain.
There will be more obvious times to celebrate throughout the year: national holidays, company anniversaries, or industry awards and rankings. Consider other creative ways to recognize individuals and teams within the company.
These celebrations can range from more costly sales incentive/reward trips to simple, less expensive recognition programs. A well-executed Employee Appreciation Day or ways to spotlight the dedication of individual team members can greatly enhance a culture and build momentum.
Employee-to-employee recognition program are also effective. With this, one employee submits a “gratitude-gram” on the company intranet to thank another for a job well done. The team member being thanks receives a certificate to display via email. That person’s immediate supervisor receives a copy of it so they know how someone on their team exceled. The internal communications team highlights the honorees each month with an intranet post and a company-wide. The names of the featured personnel can be entered into a drawing for a gift card or a special HR benefit like an extra half-day off. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to make someone’s day and boost morale.
During this time when many companies adapted to a working from home structure, building and maintaining a strong company culture takes more creativity than ever before. There are still many ways to continue to keep your employees engaged in this new era. It just requires a bit more thinking, planning and intention.
At the end of the day, people stay (or leave) an organization based on how you create a corporate culture. With a keen, creative eye and a well-focused mind, molding the right one is possible.
You are all it takes.