Culture defines us. Whether we grew up in the uber polite Deep South or a street tough inner city setting, our culture provided the framework for our standards, beliefs and work ethic. We each bring these diverse cultures to our place of work, affecting and influencing the company’s culture. Each company must develop its own culture, one that ensures an open, positive environment for all employees. When a company begins to feel negative influences from its employees’ individual cultures, it must foster a permanent cultural change to survive and thrive.
The Importance of Positive Culture
The importance of a positive corporate culture for all employees translates to measurable metrics including:
- Talent retention
- Higher value stocks
- Improved public reputations
Great employees want to remain in a great organization where their ideas and input are welcomed and incorporated. They talk about their terrific workplace to friends and family, building an impressive word-of-mouth reputation for the company. This translates to a company of greater financial value. Review Fortune’s list of the best places to work and you’ll find that the stock for those positive culture companies has twice the value of other companies.
Changing company culture takes time, effort and team work. These ten tips will help you create and implement a lasting cultural change in your organization.
1. Define your values in plain language. Describe appropriate behaviors associated with each value. Make this easily understandable by all and applicable to everyone from the front desk receptionist to the CEO.
2. Reconstruct your corporate strategy, and processes and procedures to line up with the target culture.
3. Make accountability a cultural cornerstone. Taking responsibility when things go wrong, and publicly acknowledging and addressing it further fosters positive culture.
4. Connect continued cultural development with all employees. The company StrawberryFrog holds “mirror workshops” in which employees can openly discuss the actual present culture and behaviors. These workshops discover problems early on and implement cultural corrections. Create a friendly, relaxed atmosphere by providing a meal at the workshop. (You can research catering meal prices online to find the best deals)
5. Lead cultural change from the top. Employees need to see that the board of directors and CEO truly consider cultural improvement important. A concrete way to show this is to formulate a standing performance objective for the CEO for cultural evaluation.
6. Don’t throw out the existing good parts of your organizational culture. Analyze your existing culture and keep what works.
7. Make an immediate investment in change. Rather than waiting to have extra money, redistribute resources. Target hot spots that can create big changes with few resources. Since culture requires continual development, you’re never done. You can add more resources as you go.
8. Create a culture that aligns with your brand. Have the human resources and marketing departments work together. The service customers receive from your employees communicates your culture.
9. Measure and adjust. Culture isn’t fuzzy. For instance, measures of a culture of diversity include a number of minority hires, level/job titles of minority hires, and the number of complaints of workplace racism or sexism. If measurements show a lack of minorities in upper management, target that area for immediate improvement.
10. Take your time. The beginnings of change may occur within months, but a complete cultural shift can take years. You’ll also need to focus on continuing the shift to keep your positive culture.
The tough work occurs after you surmount the mountain of getting everyone in your organization to recognize the need for change and understand why change must occur. These ten tips should help you jump-start your change process.