The success of any business is almost entirely attributable to its people. They do the day job, get the results and determine whether you’ll hit the lofty targets you set at the start of the year. If your team doesn’t feel happy to come to work, constantly challenged by their role and excited about their future at the organization, it’s likely to be down to overall company culture.
There are multiple ways to improve a culture that’s gone awry, here are five steps to think about first.
1. Encourage transparency
We’ve all got that one colleague who repeatedly overshares...we don’t need to hear all the gory details of their weekend, right? But personal stories aside, encouraging a culture of openness and honesty across all offices, departments, and roles can foster a feeling of inclusiveness while minimizing the gossip machine. Increasingly, particularly in small companies, staff are regularly updated with the commercial progress of the business, indicating that their employers trust them with the financial details, and giving them a sense of pride and involvement in company success. Tech platforms such as WhatsApp and Slack are also great for quick and informal information sharing, using these to share good news company-wide without a carefully worded email can be great for morale.
2. Offer real benefits and opportunities
Today, all the usual ‘perks’ - fruit deliveries, filtered water, gym memberships, charity sporting events – should just be a given. They won’t set your organization apart from any other well-meaning corporate. We all know that a healthy body starts with a healthy mind, so challenge the way employees think, nurture creativity and support ideation. Help your team achieve things they never thought they could and encourage celebration. If your people are excited and energized by the success of the business, it’s natural for them to want to take on the next challenge and continue to drive business growth.
3. Treat your people as individuals
As obvious as it sounds, treating each employee as an individual, with their own aspirations and needs, is critical to building a collective positive culture. Appreciate that the value some might see in one form of reward, will not be reflected across the board and be careful to acknowledge the personal preferences and individual professional goals of each staff member. Employees will be happier and more productive if they feel motivated as an individual, rather than just another member of the team. This can be even harder with a global team, so recognizing cultural differences and appreciations can also be important to a general feeling of inclusiveness, even if you are geographically dispersed.
4. Employ the right candidates
The culture of any organization can be made or ruined by the people - getting your recruitment process in order to ensure the people you bring on board not only tick the experience and capabilities boxes, but are also the right cultural fit, is essential. All too often, organizations take a risk and try employing someone a bit different, perhaps to try and “shake things up”. All this is likely to do is confuse existing staff about the direction of the business and impact productivity as those around the new recruit struggle to identify the best way to work with them.
5. Recognize those that really don’t want to be there
However, the reality is that no organization is going to get it right every time, when it comes to recruitment. As a fast-growth company it’s reasonable to expect 10-15% of hires to fail. The best thing you can do is embrace it, offer an open door to those that feel they simply cannot add value and proactively help those that wish to move out of the business. When it comes to performance issues, it’s crucial that your business does not hold onto people that cannot find a way to add value or align with our organizational culture. Removing the people that don’t want to be there as quickly as possible also minimizes the opportunity they have to spread bad feeling across the rest of the organization.
Ultimately, culture cannot be prescribed. How you establish it should be organic and take a natural course as the organization grows. But while it’s impossible to define what a positive culture looks like, taking steps to identify yours and ensure you can maintain it will enable you to grow a team that wants to take the corporate journey together.