Almost all executives grasp the concept of corporate culture, and they understand why it’s valuable. But actually making it an active part of employees’ day-to-day work life remains an elusive goal, even among experienced business leaders.
The following four-point plan will guide you in the development of a great organizational culture. It’s the same basic template that we at Insperity have used to build a culture in which employees thrive.
Step 1: Establish a foundation
Creating a company culture is a long-term process; it evolves over time, and it requires a solid foundation on which to grow. That foundation consists of your mission, vision, and values. These are not mere concepts left to float around in the corporate ether; they are real and concrete. State them explicitly, in writing. They will guide every human resources decision and action from here on out.
The executive team must have a hand in building the foundation. Discuss with them the values you want to drive your success? What are you passionate about? What qualities do you want your people to exhibit? The values you choose is where company culture lives.
Step 2: Achieve buy-in
Before you finalize any culture development plan, solicit your employees’ input face to face. After all, they’re the ones who will be most affected by it day in and day out.
A focus group involving employees from different departments, experience levels, and job titles is helpful. Exclude supervisors, managers or executives from this focus group (or run a separate focus group for leaders). A good culture is directed from across the company including employees at all levels of the organization.
That said, you need to secure buy-in from your management team as well. They, too, must live these values every day at work. Everyone must abide by the culture.
Step 3: Roll it out
This is where the long-term nature of culture-building comes into play. Rolling it out is not a one-and-done action. It requires ongoing effort to bring the culture to life, from words on a poster to an organic and ubiquitous element that impacts every aspect of the organization’s daily life.
Implement programs that reflect the foundational values. Reward people for demonstrating those values. Ensure every HR function, from hiring to firing to benefits to the leadership philosophy, aligns with the culture. Rolling out the culture means everyone in the organization plays a part, from the CEO to the summer intern.
Step 4: Take the temperature
A great culture thrives on trust, after all, the culture is largely characterized by the relationship between the company and its people. Regularly ask your employees “What is it like to work at this company?” Survey your clients and vendors as to their experience with the company. Negative responses or inconsistent answers are red flags that you need to review how well your culture is aligned with the company mission and effectively you’ve made it an extension of the corporate brand.
Also, encourage your leaders and managers to regularly check in with their teams and clients. To formalize employee opinion, consider an annual employee survey. Make sure the survey is anonymous hire a third party to administer it if necessary. This encourages employees to be candid in their feedback.
Your employees will expect leadership to address their concerns, so be sure to act upon them. Use the information to find new ways of ensuring the current climate aligns with the company culture and its core values.