This is the third post I promised in my short series of curated posts about Company Cultures. Out of the many great articles I found I grouped some of them around 3 themes:
- Why – what’s so important about Corporate Culture?
- What – are there building blocks that get make up a Corporate Culture?
- How – Corporate Cultures can not, should not be replicated because every company is different
Many people believe that company culture happens by accident, and there is nothing you can do to change it. It’s not an easy thing, but you can in fact work to shape your company’s culture with policies, hiring practices, and positive reinforcement of the behaviors you want to see.
However, if you read the first two posts in this mini-serie (you can find them here and here), then you realize that your culture is too important to leave it up to ‘good-luck’. It is time to ask ourselves the next question: How do I know if my company culture is a good one? And, what can I do to make it better if needed?
Let’s try to do another bit of mixing and matching, here’s the two articles I used.
And here’s how I mixed them:
Health Check 1 – You Communicate
For communication to be most effective it must include everyone in the company, at all levels, and the communication must go both ways. The days of top-down hierarchal management are over, and the best companies are the ones who share information across departments and job levels. A 2015 Gallup report cited findings that among employees who strongly agreed that they could approach their manager with any type of question, 54% were engaged. Among those who strongly disagreed, 65% were actively disengaged.
Example: Warby Parker has made company culture deliberate by creating a dedicated team tasked with coming up with events and programs to promote community. Great company culture doesn’t happen on its own.
Example: Southwest Airlines communicate its goals and vision to employees in a way that makes them a part of a unified team. Employees who are convinced of a larger common goal are people who are excited to be part of a larger purpose.
Health Check 2 – You Are Employee-Centric
Rather than creating rigid job descriptions, titles, and ranking systems, your company focuses on hiring great people and putting their skills to best use. You support your employees’ career trajectories by promoting their advancement within your organization and offering training internally or via tuition reimbursement at other institutions.
Example: When your company depends on new hires who excel in a competitive field, your company culture and any associated perks will likely be the tipping point for applicants. You must stand out from other companies vying for attention. [Facebook]
Health Check 3 – Your Employees Understand How They Contribute
There is nothing more demotivating than doing work and feeling like it’s going into a void. Make sure your employees not only understand the corporate goals, but also how they contribute to those goals as individuals. Feeling like a valuable part of a team increases employee engagement and also strengthens the bonds between co-workers.
Example: When your employees are completely immersed in the same interests as your company, the culture propels itself forward almost on its own. Culture that is owned and propelled by the same people puts value in their voices. [REI – “life to their purpose”]
Health Check 4 – You Encourage Collaboration
A company’s rewards systems, whether formal (such as promotions) or informal (email congrats) should emphasize teamwork rather than individual contribution. Work environments can become toxic when employees spend their time competing with each other and become more focused on their own personal success than that of the organization. Actions that put the organization before the individual
Example: Your company culture doesn’t have to be ping-pong tables and free beer. Simply providing employee’s with a sense of safety and well-being and creating a policy where everyone looks out for each other can easily suffice. [the Chevron way]
Health Check 5 – You Speak Like Humans
We all know how important it is to “get your ducks in a row,” but if you find your employees communicating by using a lot of corporate speak clichés, it’s a pretty good sign that they don’t feel comfortable being themselves at work. Work-life balance is slowly morphing into work-life integration, where employees might be “on” during hours normally reserved for family, and vise-versa. It’s making less and less sense to have a “work self” and a “real self,” and Millennials especially have expressed their desire to blend their personal and professional lives. No one should feel that they have to put on a mask to appear more competent or authoritative.
Example: Employees feel their voices can be heard when they aren’t muffled under layers of management. This level of freedom and empowerment creates confident employees and improves morale. [SquareSpace]
Health Check 6 – You Recognize Good Work
So many managers fall into the bad habit of only discussing employee performance when it has fallen short. Study after study finds “lack of appreciation” as one of the top reasons that people leave their employers. Managers should be trained to recognize good performance regularly—and no, salaries and bonuses are not considered recognition! Sometimes a sincere message saying, “Thank you so much for doing such an outstanding job on this project” is worth more than any amount of money in terms of engaging the employee.
Example: At Happy Melly the team credits each others performance on a continuous basis. Each team member receives each month a number of ‘merits’ to show appreciation to their peers for the work they’re doing. When the dice determines it is time, a bonus payment in function of the amount of received merits will take place (the dice is thrown once a month, one time, no cheating, bonus is only paid if a 6 is thrown) [note: this example is from my personal experience, not the article]
Health Check 7 – You Don’t Look to Assign Blame
When something goes wrong, if the first question is, “Whose fault is this?” rather than “How can we fix it?” your culture needs some work. When employees first look to assign blame, it shows that your culture breeds political behavior in which someone has to take the fall when there is a problem. If your culture is healthy, you’ll look to figure out why the mistake happened, fix it, and move on rather than wasting time finding a scapegoat.
Example: You can’t beat having team members who are pleasant and friendly to each other, and are both good at and love what they are doing. No program, activity or set of rules tops having happy and fulfilled employees who feel that what they are doing matters. [@Twitter]
Example: Putting trust in your employees goes a long way towards positive company culture, because trust leads to independent employees who help your company grow. [Adobe doesn’t use ratings]
If you’re unsure about whether your company has a healthy culture, think about how you measure up in the above areas. Though never, ever forget that your company is unique!
If Self-Management Is Such a Great Idea, Why Aren’t More Companies Doing It? , asked Forbes last week. The article cites Morning Star Co ., the well-known self-managed tomato processor, whose self-management techniques many other companies have wanted to imitate, in vain. […] I think part of the reason is it is very, very difficult to clone that kind of model because it’s reinforced through a cultural set of norms. There’s no written […]
Check your health, and draw up your own unique plan, because You Can’t Replicate Company Culture!