Earlier this year, Forbes published an article outlining the top reasons why setting a company culture is so intrinsic to the overall success of your organization. And, while most business leaders will agree, often the shaping of the company culture is pushed to the bottom of the list. Recognizing the Herculean task of re-crafting or shaping the culture might seem overwhelming and many businesses opt to hire consultants to aid them. However, there are many simple methods that you can integrate from today that will help to hone and sculpt the culture you want to create and give you a definitive identity – one that sends a clear signal to your employees as well as augments your image to future and current clients.
Be the culture and embody it. As the old adage goes, nothing speaks louder than words than…actions. Make sure your personal actions and integrity are in line with the ethos and culture you wish to promote. People will take the lead from you and the effect will trickle down and inform your employees of your expectations. Essentially, as a leader of a company you are a walking, breathing guideline of your company. Making your input and actions invaluable. If you want to promote precision and timeliness, then ensure you are first in the door in the mornings and don’t be sloppy with the details. It all adds up and your employees will take their cue from you. Best thing of all, it’s free.
Updating or changing a culture takes consistent effort. You may not see results in days or weeks, or even months. You must be stubborn and persistent. Engender the spirit and culture you desire and take actions every day to see that happen. Work with your internal communications department and ensure that the appropriate tone and message is being set. If you want to see more professionalism, then give guidelines to your employees on how to achieve that.
In Dubai, often the office is crammed with employees from all over the globe, with each person arriving with their own idea of business culture created and informed from their own home countries. South Africans may be known as hard workers but are equally famous for being 10 minutes late in general to all meetings. Australians are known for their joviality and banter, while East Asians will suss out situations from afar, and deal with issues by going around them instead of head on.
Setting company culture guidelines helps to define expectations and will inform employees as to what is expected of them. And, what’s great is that you can be encouraged by the melting pot around us, looking to it for inspiration. Take the best bits of various cultures and come up with your own distinctive one.
Share, share, and share some more. Nothing resonates more these days than sharing a success story from the sales department, or how one of the employees dealt with a tricky Catch-22 situation. These can be shared in a newsletter, but even better around the meeting table or by the water cooler. Story telling is one of the best bonding activities out there. It underscores and reinforces the group and allows employees to feel part of the group, which is vital for feeling part of the greater whole. Plus, the added bonus of sharing positive stories and outcomes inspires and circulates fresh ideas. For more practical ways on how to build this habit within your organization, read this great article from the Stanford Social Review.
This is one of the simplest ways to build trust and credit with your employees, yet it often falls by the wayside in the daily grind of getting business done. As a leader, you are in charge of setting the tone and distributing information. If you are open, the environment surrounding you will take note and be equally open. This is invaluable for sharing of information and influencing daily communications.
Once employees feel that vital information is being kept from them, or that they are not privy to certain ideas or projects, they may start to feel undervalued and go on the defensive by withdrawing. This is obviously of no help to anyone and can undermine projects from the get go. Keep employees engaged and motivated by informing them timeously of vital updates. This is a small action that can aid them in keeping them motivated in the long run and that you value their input.
Now, this might involve outlaying some cash, but your physical environment informs your culture in a significant way. If you walk into a fast food joint and it is messy and there is ketchup all over the tables, you would be rightly hesitant to eat there. Well, if your office appears to be sloppy with outdated and worn furniture, it will have the same impact on your employee’s morale not to mention your clients.
Your space communicates your brand in a powerful way. Never underestimate its impact. If you want to promote transparency, think glass walls and lots of light. If you want to underline creativity, use bold design and bright colors. You never have to say it explicitly but the message will be loud and clear.
So, with all these ideas, you can see how all these can add up to reiterating and defining a company culture. So put pen to paper and define what you want now and then go out and implement it.