In this article, I want to take a moment to discuss the importance of a strong company culture. I will define what company culture is, explain why it matters, and provide insights on how to build a winning culture.
Table of Contents
What is company culture?
Defining Company Culture: Company culture is a set of shared values and behaviors that define how people interact with one another to achieve individual and collective goals. It is the collective manifestation of what our team jointly holds important to its core. Our company culture encompasses all exchanges that happen within our organization, including the exchange of knowledge, creativity, ideas, power, and support.
You may have heard the term “thriving culture” used for companies that prioritize their culture. A thriving culture is possible when people within the company understand and hold the company’s shared values true for themselves and for everyone involved in making the company successful, including customers, internal teams, and leaders.
The true test of any company’s culture is when employees speak about their experiences with honesty outside the company. Any company can boast about having a strong culture, but if teams and employees don’t genuinely resonate with what’s on paper, we need to take a closer look. Our goal as a company should be for our employees to think and act in accordance with our company’s culture. This is a collective effort that requires ongoing work and attention from everyone in the company, not just a select few.
What difference does a strong culture make?
Because culture impacts so much of what an organization plans to do and how it approaches that plan, a living culture at a growing company will most of the time define the viability, effectiveness and pace of the business’s growth plan. A few quick examples to understand this;
- A company culture that holds a high threshold for their employees making mistakes and not getting it right the first time is allowing people to learn fast and be more responsible. Employees at such a company are not afraid to lose their jobs or get penalized because they didn’t know better. Instead employees feel empowered to make bold decisions, think of solutions outside the box and become more willing to take initiative in applying solutions. This makes the company become more advanced at problem solving and finding solutions to different challenges.
- A company culture that encourages people to always do more is constantly challenging what they have already achieved or think is their top potential; constantly questioning whether further improvement is possible. Such a company would have more ideas being brought up internally, their systems will always be getting better and their customers will be exposed to strong solutions that are often in line with leading industry best practices.
- A company culture that focuses on mentoring juniors and cultivating them through support would have an environment of knowledge sharing and trust. New members in such a company will gain skills and experience quickly and will start performing sooner, having a positive impact on service delivery and overall efficiency.
Qualities of a winning company culture
A great thriving culture may have lots of attributes. Here’s what is primary:
- People centric
- Customer and results driven
- Highlights empathy and care
- Real and action oriented
A winning company culture is one that is aligned with the organization’s goals and values, and is designed to bring out the best in its employees. It’s a culture that fosters a sense of belonging, respect, and collaboration, and where there is a clear sense of purpose and direction.
A winning culture is one that encourages continuous learning and growth, and where employees are empowered to take ownership of their work and contribute to the organization’s success. All people associated with a company have to strive to create an environment where people feel supported, challenged, and motivated to achieve their goals.
I have also found that a winning culture is also one that is transparent and open to feedback all around. It is critical that teams and individuals encourage each other to share ideas and perspectives, and we listen to their feedback and act on it. This helps create a sense of trust and respect, and fosters a culture of continuous improvement.
Who Drives Company Culture?
It’s not the sole responsibility of HR to drive a company’s culture. Instead, it’s a collective effort that involves every leader at every level. Company culture is driven by everyone in the organization, from the top, down to the front-line employees. While the leadership team plays a critical role in setting the tone and direction for the culture, it’s up to everyone in the organization to live the values and behaviors that define the culture. A successful company believes that every employee has a role to play in shaping culture.
In addition to individual contributions, a company’s culture is also shaped by the systems and processes that are in place. For example, a strong onboarding program helps new employees understand the impact of their role, understand company values, and get regular feedback and performance reviews that help identify areas for improvement.
How to Achieve the Right Culture?
To achieve the right culture, a company must prioritize its people, communicate its values clearly, ensure leadership buy-in, practice what it preaches, and make continuous improvements.
- Well Defined values: If the core values are clear, concise, and aligned with the overall mission and purpose, the culture is in place. All that needs to be done from here is to communicate these values to the team and make sure they understand how they apply to their work.
- Consistency: Culture has to be evident in all aspects of the organization, from the website to employee interactions. If there are inconsistencies, there is a very urgent need to reassess company culture and start prioritizing it more.
- Employee satisfaction: When employees are happy and motivated, it is usually a sign that the culture is right. Giving importance to employee satisfaction surveys and engaging in regular feedback sessions to get a pulse on how people and teams feel is basic.
- Business performance: If the company is meeting its goals and achieving success, it is a sign that the culture is right. Conversely, if the business is struggling, there may be a need to reassess the culture and make necessary changes.
- Hire for cultural fit: When hiring new players, prioritizing candidates who align with company values and can contribute to the culture in a positive way is critical. Look for people who share the passion for the mission and are excited about the opportunity to contribute to the organization’s success.
- Lead by example: If leaders and higher ups are playing their role in setting the tone and direction for the culture and modeling the behaviors and values that they want to see in their teams, and holding themselves accountable to the same standards they expect from others, culture will thrive.
- Foster collaboration and communication: Create opportunities for teams to collaborate and communicate with one another. Encourage open dialogue and constructive feedback, and create a culture where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.
- Empower individuals and team: Continuous need to give the teams the autonomy and resources they need to succeed by providing opportunities for growth and development, and encouraging people to take ownership of their work and contribute to the organization’s success.
- Recognize and celebrate success: Finally, making sure that everyone recognizes and celebrates successes along the way. It is important to take the time to acknowledge the hard work and contributions of the team, and create a culture where people feel valued and appreciated.
What to do when you do not sense a strong culture?
If you can’t sense a strong culture in your company, it’s time to take action on your part. Here are a few things you can do to ensure a stronger culture:
- Understand company values and align with them: Take the time to review and study the company’s culture so you can clearly articulate the values that are part of it. Ensure that everyone in the company understands what these values are and how they should guide their behavior. Managers, Supervisors, Leaders all have great responsibility in ensuring that everyone knows about company values.
- Communicate: Effective communication is key to building a strong culture. Ensure that people are in the know of what is happening in the company and how their work contributes to the company’s success. Regular meetings and feedback sessions help facilitate this communication.
- Lead by example: Leaders at all levels in the org chart play a critical role in shaping company culture and new leaders are identified in how they represent the company’s culture. Ensure that you are modeling the values and behavior that you want to see from the team.
- Prioritize employee engagement and collaboration: All employees need to feel valued and engaged in their work. Do your share in creating opportunities for growth and development, and create a culture where people and teams feel empowered and motivated.
Building a strong company culture is crucial to success. It’s a collective effort that involves everyone in the organization, and it’s essential to have the right culture in place to achieve individual and collective goals.
Good companies regularly conduct a culture audit with the goal to get a sense of how people perceive the culture and what changes may need to be made. They also encourage open communication by creating an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. They are successful in encouraging open dialogue and constructive feedback, to make sure everyone has a voice in shaping the culture.
By taking steps discussed in this article, anyone can start to create a more positive and engaging culture in the organization. It takes time and effort, but the results are well worth it at both a professional and personal level!