When your employees arrive at work, what is it you want them to feel and think about your company?
Maybe you’ve never thought about it before. But, how they “feel” is a reflection on you and the company culture you’ve established.
How do you breathe new life into a company culture that needs resuscitating? It’s going to take some work – and you can start by asking:
- How well do your employees enjoy their work? Coming to work should not bring a feeling of dread.
- Is there a level of accountability and responsibility? Taking ownership makes employees feel connected.
- Are your employees engaged? Believing what they do matters to the company and its mission leads to committed employees.
- Is there a sense of camaraderie and respect? People like to be involved and know their word and work are trusted.
- How do you invest in your employees? Giving recognition and rewards (monetary or otherwise) for a job well done shows that you value their work.
With these questions answered, you’re ready to begin the task of creating a company culture that will make your competition envious. You’re four steps away from the promised land….
Step one: Lay a foundation
Establishing a company culture doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process; one that starts with finding your mission, vision and values. At its core, your company culture is about values – what you stand for.
You and your executive team need to devote time and effort to determine these company cornerstones. If you don’t, someone will fill in the gap. And, one day, you’ll wake up, look around and say, “This isn’t what I planned. What happened?”
Let’s look at each of this three-pronged approach and what each entail:
- Mission statement: This tells the world – your employees, customers and vendors – why you’re in business. It should be brief.
- Vision statement: This describes what your company aspires to be down the road. It should have emotion and motivate.
- Values: This is what you and your employees believe, and how you’ll behave. This is the foundation of your company culture.
Are your values the foundation of what you want your company to be? Is this how you want your employees to act, feel and work?
Figuring out your values is hard, and it’s at this point where many companies give up – but don’t. Your values will guide your daily actions and decisions.
Start with examining what values you share with your executive team. What are you passionate and emotional about? These are your values, and this is where company culture lives.
Take Company X, for example. It puts a premium on innovation, the pursuit of excellence, integrity and helping the community. Those values are a part of who they are, who they hire and how they conduct business every day.
Step two: Take the temperature
You can’t talk about culture without talking about employee engagement. Disengaged employees cost a company money, productivity and morale.
Use your employees to help find where you’re lagging in the company culture department. A culture survey (aka climate survey) is a great place to start.
Some sample questions and topics covered in a culture survey:
- Is the employee’s opinion valued?
- How many times in the past three months has your supervisor recognized you for something done well?
- Do you have the resources and tools you need to do your job?
- Do you feel like your manager listens to you?
- Do you feel like your benefits are fair and marketable?
- Are you satisfied in your job?
How many employees participate in the survey can be telling. If there is a lot of distrust in your organization, the participation rate among employees is going to be low. That’s a red flag.
Trust is key in company culture – if your people don’t trust you, they’re not going to follow you. Take this as an opportunity to build that trust. Use a third party to conduct the survey and make it anonymous for your employees.
If you conduct a culture survey, commit to doing something with the results. You don’t want your employees to take the survey and not see any outcome. It will underscore any reason they may have for being disengaged.
A culture survey will show you what your employees think, how they feel about their jobs, workplace, co-workers and managers. Use this information to see how your newfound company culture and values align with the current climate.
Step three: Get buy-in
Before you determine your company culture and values, be sure to ask for your employees’ input. After all, it’s their workplace that’s going to be directly affected by these decisions day in and day out.
Conduct a focus group with employees from different departments, experience levels and job titles. No supervisors, manager or executives. Just the employees. Have them review the mission, vision and values and give their input. Again, you’ll want the help of a third party.
Employee feedback can be eye-opening and affirming. What you thought would be a marginal issue may rank higher for your employees; and what they find compelling may not have registered high on your meter.
In the end, it’s your company, your vision, your values. But if you’ve hired people you trust, then it’s worth hearing what they have to say.
You and your executives should review the feedback and make tweaks as you see fit. Once you have the final version, you need a commitment from your management team to live these values every day at work – you all must walk the walk.
Things to consider as you move forward:
- Do you have the right leadership team in place that models your values?
- Does your company attract like-minded, talented employees?
- Do your values challenge the team to be the best?
- What opportunities are there to be involved with your employees?
You don’t want your employees to be able to say: “Well, they say it. But they don’t do it.”
How you and your management team act will be the litmus test for employees. And it starts with their supervisors. If the leadership has done a good job hiring supervisors and employees, your company’s culture should be transparent from the top down.
Step four: Roll it out
How do you make culture an innate part of the organization? It’s more than putting it on a poster that hangs in the break room.
Your company culture is a living element. It affects all aspects of the organization: From the way you conduct performance reviews to the way you acknowledge people, it all ties into your human resources infrastructure.
It will reflect on how you hire, onboard and fire. Your rewards and compensation practices will be in-line with your values.
If what you crave is a strategic, competitive edge for talent, this is how you do it – with the right culture and high engagement levels. People will want to work for you and stay. It’s not enough to get them, you must keep them. And some companies fall short.