The fundamental beliefs and guiding principles in the workplace are the foundation of any business and will significantly impact business growth.
An internal culture of compromised values and lack of accountability always overshadows progressive business planning. Business owners and managers who overlook or ignore this fact will be frustrated when staff resist change and hesitate to implement new ideas.
Growth plans and business strategies are not sustainable without a strong framework of cultural values and the “rules of the game.” Your company’s culture plays an important role in attracting and keeping top talent, boosting morale, and achieving higher productivity and performance.
Every organization, from a small independent business to a large corporation, has a culture — that collective consciousness that’s infused in the organization. Workplace culture includes every individual’s values and beliefs and also shared experiences. If there is no stated culture, everyone brings their own.
Changing personal habits is very challenging and requires discipline.
Changing the culture in a business means changing the collective habits of all employees.
That’s not an easy thing to do. It requires tremendous goodwill and persistence on the part of the owners, managers and employees.
Organizational norms are shared standards that define acceptable behaviours, dictate how things get done and state how problems are to be uniformly dealt with. A formal culture statement must be developed by you and your team.
There are four steps to consider.
The business owner selects and defines three points they believe are most important.
Each team member selects three points most important to them personally, with the common values adopted. Then everyone selects and defines three points that are important to the success of the business, and the three points that are believed to be the most important to your clients.
A useful culture statement should end up with between seven to 10 points.
There will often be overlap. An example might be “gratitude” or “respect,” points of culture that could be applied to your team and your clients.
This process takes time — as well as money — to develop and implement, manage any changes, and train employees to the desired standards. Allocate resources to ensure the necessary changes are made. Nothing can be left to interpretation.
Businesses are often a reflection of their owner. To change the culture means you need to model those qualities. This takes conscious effort and patience.
For example, if you value education, you must undertake ongoing learning and share what you learn with staff. You’re accountable to be a role model for the culture you envision.
Design an organizational structure that supports these values. Reward results and performance that comply with the newly defined culture. Bonuses can be linked to performance results but can also be awarded to those who regularly exhibit behaviour consistent with the workplace culture.
Make compliance with company culture a basis for recruitment, promotion and dismissal of employees.
Present and discuss your company’s culture statement during the interview process. Promote current employees who champion the culture, and dismiss those who are unwilling to embrace and reinforce these ideals.
Reinforce these standards by having each new and existing team member sign the statement. Post the framed statement in a prominent location. Introduce team rituals and traditions that celebrate successes.
Companies that consistently align their business goals with their organization’s culture routinely outperform their competitors. Some studies report the difference at 200 per cent or more. An example of the importance of culture can be found if you go to YouTube and search for Zappos Culture.
A business that aligns its goals with its culture will achieve superior performance over the long run.
A culture statement is a living document. Knowing what it is and how to bring your team together predicts how they will react to and support new ideas.
Articulate this sense of unity well and the business will follow.
ActionCoach is written by John MacKenzie of ActionCoach, which helps small- to medium-sized businesses and other organizations. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 403-340-0880.