Can you find a connection between the culture of a company and that of an ethnic, religious or national culture? Come to think of it, they all share most elements.
In the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have amazing conversations with entrepreneurs who understand that creating a company culture that actually matters is a must. A few minutes into a conversation I was surprised to see how some business owners understand and incorporate the concept of company culture. In most cases they turn a workspace in a room where employees can play ping pong, take naps, watch TV or even cook. While these are considered as good intentions and a great way of ensuring the fun stays in the workplace, they cannot and should not be mistaken for company culture.
Actually, in some instances it may actually work against it. Just take a minute or two and think about the organizational culture concept. As a matter of fact, it’s not all that different from a national or ethnic culture. All of them are defined by a set of values, beliefs, traditions, celebrations, norms, language, etc. So how can you actually craft company culture to ensure that it will evolve into something meaningful over time?
1. Ensure that you articulate both your vision and your purpose. The first thing you need to do is to establish the identity of your company and create a language that will be passed on to your team. When your team will begin to understand who your company is and what is its purpose, you can move on to the next step, i.e. aligning your work environment with your values.
To ensure that the values are effective, the perks should directly reinforce what you, as the spokesman of your company, believe in. If your company encourages creative inspiration by means of recreational activities, then go ahead and build that recreational room. If not, replace it with something that connects more with you with that all-important greater purpose.
2. Remember to hire people that show both technical and emotional capabilities. While defining the culture is the first logical step, how are you able to enrich and tap into that culture? The staff you hire plays an important part. When you’re interviewing a candidate remember that the technical abilities of a person are just as important as the emotional intelligence.
This will definitely help you with the propagation of a particular culture in your company. On the one hand you can teach your staff skills. On the other hand, you simply cannot teach or convince them to care. By hiring a person which possesses emotional skills as well you are pretty much ensuring that the culture of the company is in the hands of the right people.
3. Make sure that the expectations are set clear. You, as the leader of your company, have the responsibility to set clear expectations by naming them. It should come as no surprise that new situations will continue to pop up from time to time and this is where you come in. You need to explain how you’d like your team to react. By having a clear purpose, you set the stage for your expectations. If you weren’t aware by now, you cannot really hold your team responsible or accountable for standards you haven’t clearly articulated to them.
4. Feedback should remain a continuous and gracious flow. This is the best way in which you are able to communicate that the set standards are extremely important to your culture. That is why, it is imperative that your employees can understand on a personal level, what they’re doing wrong and what they’re doing right. By providing a continuous flow of feedback you eliminate the guesswork, thus shifting focus on finding ways to improve.
5. Integrity is one of the main reasons employees look up to a great leader. This also applies in the case of company culture. Integrity is perceived by most employees as a reflection of the core values you have set through your leadership. If a leader prefers to avoid taking charge of the company culture, employees will begin to formulate their own values, beliefs or even norms.