Corporate culture can be hard to define. Unfortunately this lack of a clear and precise definition means it can sometimes be viewed in management circles as soft or “fuzzy”. Yet most CEOs will tell you that successfully incorporating values and a clear mission into the DNA of an organisation is among the most important work they do.
We regularly work with companies that have fantastic, inspiring corporate cultures, but all too often we see or hear of the opposite: workplaces with unproductive, apathetic or hostile environments. An understanding of corporate culture can transform organisations into constructive, healthy workplaces and have a significant impact on performance.
So how exactly do you get around this? Here are our 7 Top Tips for how you can create a successful, constructive workplace culture for your company:
1. Build Shared Meaning. The first step towards a constructive, motivating culture involves establishing shared values and a shared mission, vision and strategy for your organisation. This gives a sense of meaningfulness about what the organisation is doing and why. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, everyone has to feel that both the organisation as a whole and their individual roles have purpose and that they are contributing to the bigger picture. Make your vision and mission uncomplicated and simple to understand.
2. Set Realistic Expectations. Set realistic expectations in the minds of your employees. Meet with them in ways that establish trust, engagement and ownership.These are the foundations for the successful implementation of any changes necessary to execute a given strategy.
3. Alignment. Ensure that the desired cultural ideals of your organisation and the operating structures and systems are in alignment. It’s no use having an agreed-upon set of ideals if they don’t equate to what happens in practice. For example if you are striving for a culture of innovation and agility, yet your operating structure is bureaucratic, your efforts to achieve timely decision making and speed of market delivery will be impeded.
4. Walk the Talk and Lead by Example. Communication is through both words and actions. Nothing undermines cultural transformation more than behaviour by leaders that is inconsistent with verbal communication. As a leader you must lead by example and be the role model to the values and priorities expressed by your mission and philosophy. Translating values into on-the-job behaviours, exemplifying these behaviours through your own approaches to tasks and encouraging your people to give their best are all essential. Similarly, communication is not simply telling. Fundamental to effective communication is listening. As Palmer et al. point out, “If communication about change entails a dialogue, then listening becomes a central communication skill” (Palmer et al, 2006).
5. Employee Involvement and Influence. For an individual to feel that what they do is meaningful, they must have a sense that they can contribute to the organisation’s direction. Review structures to allow employees at all levels to be involved in decision-making and influence the direction of the organisation. Train managers and leaders to involve their people in problem solving and decision-making. Employee involvement is a key process in building the content and acceptance of the statements referred to within Mission and Philosophy (Human Synergistics International).
6. Autonomy. Give employees a sense of autonomy in their everyday roles, allowing them to influence the what, how, when and where of how tasks are accomplished. This sense of control will foster a sense of investment in your organisation and its outcomes.
7. Leadership development. As a leader or manager you need to learn how to balance personal tasks, interpersonal management and leadership capabilities. The manager/leader as ‘facilitator’ rather than ‘controller’ is the key here – coaching, mentoring, leading teams, involving people and empowering them (Human Synergistics International).
The good news is cultural change can lead to measurable results within as little as 12-18 months. Of course the goals and outcomes vary according to the needs of each organisation but evidence-based tools, such as those used by wm Consulting, have been shown to work. A cohesive, constructive culture is something every organisation can achieve.
So what are your thoughts on the above? Have you implemented these previously into your business; if so what was the outcome?