Four Ways to Let Your Corporate Culture Soar
On Friday, we started talking about Company Culture. The basic thought of that post is that there are a couple realities about a Company Culture that you need to accept before you can do anything. Though we talk in more detail in the previous post, here are the basic points:
1. The company culture is the image of the company that is carried inside the organization.
2. Company culture will be defined by the day-to-day activities of its employees, not Christmas Parties, Group Get-Aways or Trust-Building sessions.
3. Ultimately, management is in charge of a company’s culture.
These are pretty basic, but often, the truth doesn’t need to be complicated. But, there are Four Things that every company must do to make it’s Corporate Culture Soar.
1. People want to know why they are working for you.
This is a bit of a double-edge sword of a statement. People work any job for money (that is the definition of what a job is), but if that is the only reason that people work for your company, then you have a bit of a problem. Why should people work for you more than Walmart or selling encyclopedias door-to-door? What is your business trying to accomplish in the world, other than sell widgets? This isn’t quite a Mission Statement, which I think is best defined as a company’s “goal”, but rather a statement of being. It doesn’t need to be long, but rather something that everyone can understand. For SDM, it is “we make companies better.” Short, simple, sweet.
2. People want to know what their job is.
As companies grow and mature, an employee’s job has a way of evolving depending on their skills. This isn’t a bad thing. The problem comes when people don’t know what it is that they have to do to do their job well. Responsibilities and authorities can be a sticky business in company politics, but vague platitudes about everyone “working together” don’t make much of a dent if people don’t know if they are succeeding or failing. At the end of the day, people need to know their baseline, what it takes to exceed that and in which ways they can fall off.
3. People want to know how to do their job.
There really isn’t an easy shortcut for this. You need to write it down. You need to create some form of documentation that discusses not just HR guidelines and OSHA safety requirements, but rather what it takes to create your product or service, how complaints are handled, how orders are fulfilled, what is expected from every employee. I know, I know, it isn’t easy. This takes effort. You need to make decisions about a lot of things which may have just flowed on their own in the past. And you might feel that writing it down will stifle that. It won’t. The reality is that business operations will flow better or worse depending on lots of different circumstances. If you capture those processes that work well, you can use it as a baseline for other elements to grow. If you capture the ones that don’t, at least you have a place to start.
If you can accomplish those three items you’re doing very well. A company can be a fun and vibrant place to work if people know who they work for, what they do and how to do it well. But, that is not entirely it. In recent decades, as our business community moves from an industrial, top-down management style to an information-oriented, more egalitarian system there is a final element that a modern company must consider for its corporate culture:
4. People need to know that they are part of the process.
This doesn’t mean that all decisions are made by committee (which is usually a disaster), but rather that they can provide input, give suggestions and make improvements. Products and services change; technologies change; and the structure and process that drive a company must be able to respond. The reality is that corporate leadership can not know all things, and by giving workers and employees the opportunity to help a company become better, it makes allows people to take pride in themselves for doing so. Not every great company does this, but most companies that do are happier because of it.
It’s not easy to have a great company, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Your people will always be your greatest asset as your company grows and changes in the world. Make sure you do what is necessary to attract and keep the best people on your team. Good luck.
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