13 SEP, 2016

How to Take Control of Your Company Culture


Company culture is more than providing unlimited coffee in the break room or hosting an outstanding holiday party every year. Those might be positive byproducts of your culture—a desire to present employees with perks and create a workplace that feels like home—but they don’t represent the inner workings of the organization. Culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s workforce interacts to get work done. It informs how your employees, at every level, accomplish tasks, celebrate success, address mistakes, and communicate with each other and with customers. For better or worse, every organization has a culture. To actively create a culture that helps your employees and your business thrive, you must work at it.

What can you do to revamp your company culture after you’ve already been in business for several years? We have three suggestions to get you started:

1. Identify what’s working and address what isn’t.

Every culture will have positive elements—for example, maybe your organization excels at onboarding and training new employees. Those experiences help create meaningful connections that support a healthy culture. But when it comes to recognizing employees for their achievements, you notice that it’s just not happening. Infusing recognition into your culture is a great place to focus your efforts because it reinforces your organization’s core values. By identifying what is and isn’t working, you’re able to build on success and address areas that need improvement.

2. Ask employees for feedback.

As a member of the organization, you have an understanding of your company culture—but do your employees share that same view? Each person perceives the culture based on his or her personal viewpoint and bias. That’s why you must ask employees to define the current company culture based on their experience.

Assessing your current culture requires vulnerability—from employees and from management. To ensure employees are comfortable openly sharing their feedback, use an unbiased facilitator or anonymous survey to gather feedback. The process may uncover issues you weren’t aware of

Don’t assume you know what is important to employees in an “ideal” culture. Be sure to ask them what your company can do differently to create a better environment and implement suggestions wherever possible.

3. Write a company statement that proclaims your company culture.

Based on the ideas and feedback you receive from employees, write a company culture statement that declares what you want to see in your company culture. Capture any positives about your culture to ensure those benefits don’t go away. If work-life balance was identified as a cultural strength, claim that as an official part of your company culture. Likewise, for the cultural elements that were lacking (e.g. teamwork) make sure those are included within the updated cultural vision. Then take action on that vision. For example, find a way to support a culture of teamwork by providing more open spaces where teams can meet to brainstorm together.

A strong cultural vision provides a clear roadmap for how decisions are made and how work gets done. A great company culture doesn’t happen by accident, and transforming a poor culture isn’t a simple task. But by proclaiming the culture you want, your organization can use that shared vision to inform how your business operates, and in turn engage employees and create more satisfied customers.

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