Culture can be one of those elusive things that companies want, but just can't seem to define. Before achieving a workplace utopia of happy-faced employees working towards a common goal, there is some groundwork that must be established and constantly maintained.
These 3 steps will get you started in cultivating your company culture.
1. Establish your goals.
Where do you want your company to be? Your goals should be specific, tangible, and clearly communicated so you and your employees know what it takes to get there and when you've arrived.
Say, for example, your company's goal is to earn $X millions of dollars over the next 3 years. Think through how exactly you plan to make that happen. Will it be by lying, cheating, and last-minute saves? Or will it be through strategic projects, strengthening the employee/manager relationships, customer service training, and company growth? When you're hiring employees, how will you make sure they understand the company's values and goals?
To work towards a common goal, employees must be clear on what that goal is and specific steps the company is taking to accomplish it.
2. Establish your values.
Values work hand in hand with tip #1. Goals are where you want to be. Values are how you plan to behave as you get there.
This step is the most important in setting an expectation for your company's culture. Values are the guiding principles for your company's actions. Although the goal is important, the journey is just as important.
At Nextep, we recently reevaluated and set our core value to this: Elevating the employment experience and enriching people's lives. We've incorporated that value into everything we do, working to enrich the lives of our clients and their employees with top-rate benefits, flawless paychecks, and advisement on best employment practices. On even the most mundane task, we keep in mind that this assistance will genuinely help someone's life and will make their employment experience and the clients company that much better.
Establishing your values, then making them omnipresent is a major step in deciding what you want your company's culture to look like.
3. Be the change you want to see.
A company's norms and practices should match the culture it wants to see. If for example, the company values transparency and honesty in employees and their dealings with the public, then the company should offer that same thing as well.
Executives can hold regular meetings to communicate details on how the company is doing and what's on the horizon (even if the news isn't wonderful). Managers can schedule weekly one-on-one meetings with each team member to provide a forum for candid communication.
Even when dealing with mistakes made at the company level, clients tend to be more accepting and willing to give another chance when the company openly admits what went wrong and the corrective measures being taken. Honesty and transparency should permeate every procedure and reaction in order to build, nurture, and maintain the culture.
This change needs to happen from the top down. If the executives aren't 100% committed to the company's goals and values and aren't practicing and enforcing them, the culture might as well not exist. Worse, it could harm morale, customer service, and employee retention since one message is being preached and another is being practiced.
Your company's culture will evolve as your employees and goals change. Keeping it top of mind will help make sure isn't lost along the way.