“There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is to just treat your staff how you would like to be treated”
– Richard Branson
Sounds great, right? The statement makes sense and it is simple. We were all taught this as children so it should be easy to apply it in the corporate world. I mean Richard Branson is one of the most influential business leaders in the world with more than 9 million followers on Linkedin alone. In fact, by the time I read it more than 4,000 people felt inspired and had already shared it. This could be a simple fix to a huge problem plaguing companies today. If only it were that simple. The issue I have with this statement is it will only work in the rare situation that you are the only person in your company influencing culture. In most cases, your company will have various people including senior leaders, management, employees, even consultants contributing to the shape of your culture. Policies, processes
#1 Align your Culture with your Strategy
This may sound obvious but all too often initiatives to change culture fail because it doesn’t make sense for the business. The new CEO wants a relaxed work environment so she eliminated the dress code policy and started wearing shorts and t-shirts to work. Sounds great? Unfortunately, she is running a financial services company and the clients
#2 Define your Culture
You can call it values or objectives or ethics but whatever you call it, define it. Work with different levels of the organization and document what you want your culture to be. Remember, a “great culture” may mean different things to different people so you will need to document what it means for your organization.
#3 Communication and Feedback
Once the leadership team has agreed on what the culture should be. They should start communicating. This isn’t set in stone yet so you will want to go level by level obtaining feedback along the way. Communicate to your senior managers, obtain feedback and possibly tweak. Communicate to your supervisors, obtain feedback and possibly tweak. So on and so on. How deep you dive will depend on the size of your organization. For larger organizations, you may want to just select a pool of employees to provide feedback. As long as you are tapping into different perspectives in your organization you will be effective. This involvement not only provides varying opinions but it creates
#4 Create Clear Actions that Support the Culture
This is where you identify the actions and
#5 Train your Managers
Ensure all your managers have a complete understanding of what they are to do, why they are doing it, and how they will do it. This could include classroom training, online training, and management coaching. They may be doing things they have never done before so they will need the skill to meet the objective. If you have a bonus plan, strongly consider setting specific objectives around the cultural shift and tying it to your Manager’s compensation.
#6 Communicate Entire Plan to Employees
#7 Assess the Outcome
You may choose to survey your employees or host focus groups. Either way, circle back 6-12 months later and see if there has been a shift. It won’t happen overnight but you will want to observe some change. You may also want to review the strategy on a yearly basis to ensure you are doing everything you can to steer the culture in the right direction. The direction may also change as your business evolves.
#8 Make Tough Decisions
Sometimes there will be people in your organization that can not, or will not, adapt to the new culture. If you are trying to create a positive work environment and you still have, after this process, a manager who yells and intimidates employees, you may have to cut him loose for the betterment of the employees and your company. Good culture still starts at the top. If you do not treat your people well, you can not expect your team to treat their people well.
This is the core of your culture. However, these 8 steps will help ensure that the rest of your leaders are on the same page.
Sarah Mullins is the founder of uptreeHR, a Halifax based human resource consulting firm that is passionate about helping business owners manage their people, set clear expectations and increase performance. We truly believe you can treat your employees well, create an amazing culture and not break the bank. To book a complimentary
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