How was your day?
Chances are, your answer doesn’t depend on the size of your salary or the accompanying benefits package. It probably doesn’t even depend on whether or not you won the big account. It depends on your company’s values, how its people treat one another – the entire workplace atmosphere on a day-to-day basis. In other words, its culture.
But culture seems like such an organic thing. As a leader, how do you mold your company’s culture effectively? And how do you ensure that it positively impacts the organization’s success?
These few simple guidelines can help.
1. Match your culture with your business model. A conservative, cautious company culture wouldn’t work well in the highly innovative world of app development. Likewise, a creative and experimental culture just doesn’t work in an investment house serving retirees. In simplest terms, it may seem like a good idea to have everyone bring their cats to work on Friday, but if your business is a dog grooming service, it might not be such a great idea.
2. Remember that culture is a form of control. As you shape the culture of your organization, keep in mind that the values and norms specified by your culture help determine appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. In other words, design your workplace around the behaviors you want to cultivate. So if you want to encourage innovative thinking, bring in work boards, lots of community space, and inspiring music; but get rid of the cubicles and stuffy clothes.
3. Involve HR. Human resources is the gate to a company’s success, but culture is the key. If your hiring staff doesn’t have the key, they can’t let the right people into the room - and a bad fit in a new hire is detrimental to everyone. Develop a written set of values so everyone knows not only what skills can add value to the company, but also what character traits can support its culture. For example, Zappos makes it clear that the customer is the first and most important stakeholder in their business. If a recruiter doesn’t make this evident in an interview, the person hired may fail to uphold those values, and the company’s success and reputation will suffer.
Developing culture is not easy, so remember to be strategic. Consistent norms and values paired with the right business model can create more great days for every member of your team, and ultimate success for your company.
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