Culture in business is loosely defined. There are a lot of different opinions about what business culture is and how to create it but ultimately it just requires being true to yourself and making it your own. It can be based on your belief structures, the values you have, the communication mechanisms you use, your leadership and what they represent. Your company’s culture could also be more tangible things like the parties you have, the way you play games, celebrations, what you recognize within your employees, etc. All of these elements go into your organizational culture which is extremely important. The exchange of money between customer and business and then from business to employee is not enough any more. The employee needs to have a stronger connection with a business than just money. When an employee has a sense of belonging within a company’s culture and alignment with the company’s purpose that is when you achieve loyalty and longevity in your employees. This blog is about how to be true to yourself through the culture you cultivate in your business.
The first phase to setting a culture within your organization is to understand your organization’s purpose, values and vision. Your purpose is why you do what you do. Why did you start the business? Your values are what you stand for and your vision is where you are going. When hiring people to work within your organization it is okay if they have a different purpose for working than you or your organization. There are a lot of different reasons why someone might want to work for an organization and they don’t all have to be the same. However, it is imperative that they align with the values and vision of your organization. If they don’t get behind your vision then your business is not going to be able to sustain its momentum because you are the only one carrying the vision. And when you are the only one getting behind your organization’s values and vision you won’t be able to empower your team to make decisions.
The second phase involves the balance of people, process and technology. This side of setting up an organizational culture is less involved with the why and more the how. People, process and technology creates space for automation, innovation, scalability, collaboration and communication. The people you hire, the processes you create and the technology you implement all go into the culture you are building. If you are wondering how people, process and technology go into your organization’s culture think of it this way; the people and technology you have go into making your processes. The technology and processes you have help to create the automations within your organization. And the processes and people you have help create innovations within your organization. The combination of people, process and technology has the ability to inspire employees and get them excited about the work they are a part of.
This is the phase we call the “strategic mission plan.” This phase involves determining what you do and how you achieve it. Though your purpose, values and vision will remain as an anchor in your organization the strategic mission plan will and should change. There are a whole slew of reasons why you might need to pivot what you do. But having a strategic mission plan and being transparent to allow employees to rally behind it is crucial. There is a lot of good that can happen when you allow employees to come to the table with changes and innovations to the strategic mission plan. This obviously takes discernment on the part of the business owner. You wouldn’t want to change your strategic mission plan so often that you have no direction–but allowing opportunity to pivot when situations arise or ideas are presented only strengthens your organization.
Human Resources plays a big part in establishing your organizational culture. This is the area of your organization responsible for hiring. So make sure those on your Human Resources team are aligned with your organizational culture. You can even have them conduct interviews to ensure new hires are a culture fit. Regardless of how you see it working within your organization don’t discount the powerful tool Human Resources can be when establishing your culture.
The Visionary should be responsible for making sure the organization understands the vision. That doesn’t mean that the visionary has to meet with every new employee that is hired and personally train them. It simply involves ensuring the leadership teams have an intimate knowledge of the vision so that they can communicate that to their employees and so on.
Leaders hold on to the human element, have compassion and humility. Be willing to hear what other people in your organization are saying. It doesn’t mean you are admitting they are always right, just take the time to analyze if there was something you could have done better. That exercise will make you better and grow trust on your team. People are people and you don’t want to become desensitized to that–even as you are making the tough decisions.
If you have a toxic culture you are probably experiencing disengagement, high turnover and poor customer relations. Toxic culture does not just stop at the employee it spills over onto your customers and public perception of your organization. If you have a toxic culture take a good hard look at your team. Toxicity isn’t always a widespread issue; it could be the result of one or two people spoiling the whole team. It is important that each person on the team aligns with the values and vision of your organization. If it isn’t a good fit it is okay to let them go. They are not going to progress if they are not working for the right company.
Ultimately, life is a journey and as an organization you will grow and there will be mistakes but we are all human and if we are all trying to better ourselves and do the best we can then it will be seen and felt. Be true to who you are as an organization. Don’t focus on your competition, be aware but focus on YOUR vision and make decisions based on what feels right for your organization–then move forward!