Every company is unique, and each will go about improving its culture in a very different way. Failure to maintain a high standard of corporate culture could lead to numerous problems, including high staff turnover, poor recruitment and low morale, loss of productivity and loss of profits. Given the competitive nature of the business environment, no company wants to be at the receiving end of a negative reputation propagated by disgruntled employees. Here are the steps that you can take to improve your corporate culture, and see how you can benefit from the improvement.
Step One: Understand What Culture You are Looking For
What Values Should Be Present?
Different organizations adopt different cultures that align with their goals and visions. You should also know the kind of culture you are looking for based on the vision of your company. To know the qualities of an ideal culture, you may consider the symptoms that constitute a bad organizational culture, in order to find their solutions. Some of the negative symptoms include poor management decisions, inefficient information sharing, failure to reward ethical behavior, and failure to listen to and address issues affecting employees. For a culture to be effective, it should bear some specific values such as:
- Transparency: A transparent culture gives your employees unfiltered insight into the operations and future of your organization. It offers them a voice, and enables them to trust the company’s leadership. You can enhance the perception of transparency by opening lines of communication and consultation. In this way, you will encourage employees to share the challenges they face and the possibility of getting effective solutions.
- Recognition: Infusing recognition into your culture will encourage your employees to seek improvement. Your workers will feel even more valuable if you make the culture inclined toward peer-to-peer recognition. This will motivate other employees to emulate those given recognition and help coworkers build stronger relations, which will help boost employee engagement It also minimizes the managerial overhead that you would need to recognize the best performers.
- Autonomy: Your corporate culture is set to be more appealing if you allow for more autonomy. Avoid micromanaging your employees, as it is ineffective and retrogressive to your efforts at inspiring trust. Instead, allow them to exercise choice, create opportunities where they can join in decision-making and prevent bullying by overzealous managers and coworkers. Autonomy will enable your employees to embrace accountability rather than waiting for you to hold them accountable to their actions. Thus, they will be able to take on new initiatives and own them.
Step Two: Find Out What Your Current Culture Is
What Values Are Present?
To identify which areas in your corporate culture require improvement, you should understand what it is. This may entail identifying the values that align with your plans and strategies you wish to employ. Some values may be outdated or inappropriate for the kind of image you want to portray to your employees and external stakeholders. Ensure that your corporate culture stays true to your organizational values. For example, if your business intends to improve its standing in the eyes of the customers, check whether your culture is customer-oriented. This would mean turning your focus from other factors, such as cost effectiveness, and focusing on improving your customer service.
In addition, you should be able to retain the positive aspects of your corporate culture and eliminate any negative parts. A flexible corporate culture gives room for growth and greater profitability since you can rectify problematic areas.
Confirm that your corporate culture clearly defines the direction intended for starting the business. Ensure that the decision originates from the top as its impact trickles down to the lower levels of your labor force.
Step Three: Devise Strategies to Improve Key Cultural Metrics
What Changes Can Be Made Either Top Down or Bottom Up to Generate these Values?
Many organizations today tend to be flatter, more concept-driven and leaner. These values can help boost employee engagement, collaboration, creativity and stronger retention. Leadership development is in great demand despite calls for less hierarchy. You should endeavor to develop inspirational leaders who can perform in a ROI-driven way and motivate others. You need to inculcate the atmosphere of collegiality to empower employees while ensuring persistent accountability.
When going about this, you should begin at the top. This requires your leadership to be supportive of any initiative. Next, you must put the change into action. Practical leadership can effectively develop a strong corporate culture. Then, you should recognize success and reward exceptional achievement, especially if it embodies your organization’s culture. This will encourage more employees to adopt and infuse the culture into their daily workplace routine, thus boosting their performance.
The adoption of a top down leadership can push your company to greater heights if it had previously remained stagnant for a long time. Inspirational, innovative leadership can help steer the right concepts in the right direction.
What Tools, Training, Education or Events Can Help Develop these Values?
To develop the values that would effectively transform your corporate culture, you need to employ specific strategies. These strategies may target the workforce, the leadership, or the entire organization. They might even be effective in bringing on board customers and outside stakeholders.
- Listening: Provide an enabling environment for your employees to express their sentiments and grievances. A Gallup survey shows that 65% of employees are actively disengaged because their managers are unapproachable. Another survey by Ultimate Software reveals that 75% of employees would not seek alternative employment if their organizations address their concerns.
- Communication: You need to express your company’s values and vision to your employees. In this way, a sense of shared goals will develop. Your employees’ mindset will shift and instill a culture of teamwork. According to Modern Survey, employees who know and understand their organizational values are more likely to engage actively in the organization’s improvement than those whose organizations do not have clearly set out and understood values.
- Regular Feedback: By providing regular feedback, whether positive or negative, you will enable employees to align their goals with your corporate culture. However, if the feedback is negative, relay it tactfully to avoid humiliating anyone. Do not wait until the end of the year to call a meeting. Praise the action that is in line with your values while laying expectations for areas that need improvement. Regular reporting will enable your team to work seamlessly. Another report by Gallup reveals that 68% of workers who get consistent and accurate feedback have greater job satisfaction.
- Provide a Challenge: Motivate your employees to adopt the change that you envision by laying down a challenge and providing development opportunities. You will manage to show them that they are an important part of your investment. In return, they will show loyalty to your company’s culture. Most employees value organizations that provide professional development opportunities. According to Gallup, employee turnover is likely to remain low if you provide continual development opportunities to your employees.
- Use Formal and Informal Interventions: Formal approaches such as metrics, incentives and new rules—if integrated with informal interactions—can create the desired effect. Many corporate leaders prefer formal, rational strategies at the expense of the informal, more emotional aspects of the organization. It is suicidal for any organization to ignore factors such as peer interactions, communities of interest, networking and ad hoc conversations and focusing only on adjusting IT systems, decisions, reporting lines and processes. Some of the formal mechanisms that can help you improve your culture include reporting structures, training and development programs, performance management, rewards and compensation, committees and company events. The informal structures are behavior modeling, cross-organizational networks, ad hoc gatherings, peer-to-peer interactions, exemplar engagement, and aesthetic changes. Both formal and informal interventions should be able to invoke altruism and pride in a job. They should also harness rational self-interest by providing promotions, financial rewards and recognition.
As a business leader, you might sense that your corporate culture is doing a disservice to your organizational values; thus, you might think of changing the culture. Despite your desire to change it, your organizational culture may be too intangible and subjective to produce an impact that aligns it with business success. The steps provided here can help you get started on overhauling your business culture to produce positive results. You could even go ahead and compare your company with other organizations, which seem to have the culture metrics for which you seek. High-performance companies, too, employ some of the techniques mentioned here to iron out departments that are recording a slump in productivity. However, you may adopt your own strategies of approaching your cultural shortcomings. With these qualities as metrics, you can determine the success of your cultural transformation in achieving corporate success.