When successful, it allows the business to attract top talent, retain valuable employees, spark innovation, and motivate a passionate team. For start-ups that make it a priority from the start, fostering a strong culture is a fairly straightforward process, but for companies that are already well established, renovating a stagnant culture presents a serious challenge that must be overcome in order to move forward.
At many organisations today surmounting this challenge is a matter of life or death. As young, fresh competitors leech away crucial talent and innovate in ways that outdated business hierarchies simply can’t match, companies must either adapt or become irrelevant within their industries. To help you avoid the latter, here’s how to create a company culture that will not only make your employees loyal to the organisation, but actively proud to be a part of it.
Give workers a job to do, and let them do it. Micro-management squashes innovation and breeds discontent. If your employees don’t feel like you have confidence in their abilities, they won’t have confidence in themselves, and won’t be passionate about the work they do, which will ultimately hurt the company. When you allow autonomy, you give workers the chance to exceed your expectations, and you’ll probably find that this is exactly what happens.
Erase the we/they line
If employees in your company refer to managers and executives as ‘they,’ and managers think of themselves as an elite ‘we’ separate from their underlings, your company culture is in sorry shape. Eliminate the we/they line at all costs, and bring your team together as a single unit that is motivated as a group to face off against competitors, rather than co-workers. Try socialising outside of work hours so that different hierarchies can loosen up and get to know each other. As long as the proper respect is shown within the office, there’s nothing wrong with breaking down the barriers a little.
Lead by investing
Rather than leading by command and hierarchy, lead by coaching your employees to produce better performances on a more consistent basis. Give them the resources to learn new skills every day, opportunities to grow professionally and access to learning and development resources, and the company will reap the rewards. When you invest in the people that fuel your business, you can build loyalty and give them the satisfaction of knowing that their job makes them better contributors.
Create a circle of safety
In his book, Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek talks about the need for a 'Circle of Safety' within every organisation. Employees must feel free to share their ideas, confident that their jobs are secure even if they make mistakes, and unified in a team that respects and supports them. It is impossible to create a Circle of Safety in a business hierarchy where employees are seen as numbers and performance is evaluated on the basis of statistics, but when leaders create a community with human values, employees thrive in the collaborative environment and perform more effectively.
Creating a strong company culture is ultimately about creating a community that employees want to join and remain a part of. Every member of your team should understand and agree with the company’s mission, feel like they make a worthwhile contribution to that mission every day, and take pride in knowing that they play a vital role in shaping the decisions that drive your business forward. If you can accomplish that, your company can’t help but succeed.
Rachel Kay is managing director of Thales Learning and Development