We’ve all read articles about how a company’s culture affects its productivity, health, employee satisfaction, financial success, etc. We get all excited about the prospect of having a stronger culture, higher personnel motivation, and reduced turnover, so we make a plan to achieve this goal. After a few months or even weeks, though, the excitement fades and everyone falls back into their daily routine with very little to no change having occurred. What does “company culture” really mean and why does the push to create an impactful one usually fade?
A company’s culture is how it thinks and behaves – not just the employees individually, but the company as a whole. Typically, the culture revolves around a set of core values – what the company believes in – that are used to drive every decision and action that the company and team makes and takes. The strength of a company’s culture affects its success because employees are attracted to organizations with the same beliefs that they have. If an employee doesn’t know what the company’s beliefs are and what it stands for, they won’t feel the connection and sense of purpose that creates much higher employee engagement. And, as we all know, higher team member engagement leads to a higher commitment to the task and company, better work ethic, increased productivity, and reduced turnover.
This all sounds terrific! So why doesn’t every company have a strong culture? There are three main answers to this: it’s hard, leaders are unsure of the best way to establish one, and executives can have a hard time stepping back.
Creating a powerful belief system that your company is based on is not an easy task. Once you create the values that you want everyone to align with, you then should reinforce those values with every system you have – performance reviews, hiring, meetings, marketing, customer acquisition, promotions, etc. This process can be very time consuming depending on the size and speed of your organization. Leaders also must ensure that they’re communicating these beliefs regularly and showing that every decision they make and action they take is aligned with these beliefs. Like everything else in an organization, culture starts at the top. If leaders don’t show their own commitment to these values, employees will quickly become disengaged and the whole process of creating values will have been for nothing.
Even once an executive team has an idea of what they want to implement, many of them do not follow through. This can be due to lack of resources, change in priority, or analysis paralysis. Knowing that you’re in charge of the success of the entire company can be very daunting, so a lot of leaders overanalyze what they’re going to do before they do it. Creating a company culture is no exception. Luckily there is no right or wrong way to do it! There is no defined path to success where if done this way, you can create the culture you dream of in half the time and with more employee engagement than you ever dreamed possible. How you create your set of core values, in which order you implement them into your organizational systems, and how you communicate them are all up to you. The only wrong step to take is to not take a step at all.
Members of the executive team used to have the jobs that their employees currently have. They used to think very detailed to help drive the product to fruition, deliver the service successfully to the customer, or close the project. As a company leader, executives need to step back and take a different perspective on their role – they are there to lead, not to do. This can be very difficult for some executives who feel like they are giving up control. The leadership team’s purpose is to think big picture and come up with strategies for success then lead their team towards these goals. Organizations are more successful when there’s a higher level of trust from executives that employees can (and will) reach their goals rather than when executives micromanage their team and dig too much into details.
Creating a strong company culture that will draw the employees and customers you want is not easy and can stretch a lot of leaders beyond their comfort zone. The impact this will make is well worth any discomfort or amount of time it takes to implement regarding your organization’s and employee’s success. A coach can help you move past whatever is blocking you so you can implement the culture you envision. Reach out to me to discuss how I may be able to assist.