Getting Your Culture Right

If your employees were asked by someone outside your organization, “What is it like to work at your company?” What would their responses be?  

Would they mention a compelling company mission and guiding values that influence their work and interactions?  Would they complement their manager’s genuine concern for employees?  Would they praise the thoughtful treatment they receive in performance reviews, and salary and promotion consideration?    Or just the opposite followed by a question of their own, “Is there anything open at your company?” 

Company culture is the organization’s unique personality that influences behaviors and attitudes not just a touchy-feely concept about employee feelings.  It is a powerful driver of corporate success.  Culture thrives on trust and reflects the relationship between the company and its people.  Positive culture encourages a deep level of employee confidence and motivates alignment of their personal goals with company mission and goals.  It creates a sense of emotional stability and frees employees to take risks and reach for their full potential. 

 Powerful cultures are founded upon four pillars: 

  1. Establish a clear and compelling company mission.  A mission statement should contain a higher purpose that ennobles employees, that acts as a north star to align the organization and unites everyone in serving customers.   
  1. Create actionable values that safely frame employee actions and interactions.  Values must be expected, exhibited daily, and supported by recognition and rewards. 
  1. Demonstrate leadership commitment to company values.  Duplicity destroys culture.  Values will decline in companies where leaders fail to exemplify them.  Acting in an ethical manner with high regard for all people will elevate and sustain culture. 
  1. Constantly monitor the employee experience and make improvements.  The best leaders proactively engage with their work force.  They are present and regularly solicit employee perspectives in person and with annual employee surveys.  When changes are found to be  merited, they take real, timely and visible action.   

Taking care of your people through a strong commitment to culture is completely within your control.  Positive culture engages employees and stimulates lasting personal ownership of the mission.  Sustained in their environment, employees will reach for their potential and take pride in company success.  And hopefully, will invoke the response, “It’s the greatest place to work ever!” 

For more on getting your culture right, get the book: Paul Sarvadi, (2019) Take Care of Your People, The Enlightened CEO’s Guide to Business Success, ForbesBooks. 

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