What does the culture of your organization look like? Are the people in it working together and supporting each other? Are they sharing the same common goals, beliefs, and behaviors? If not, you are probably not experiencing success at the level you could be.
Culture can be defined as the deeply embedded mindset everyone has on “How things work around here.” It is the foundation for harmony, collaboration, creativity, and productivity. At the end of the day, culture is the deciding factor for whether or not your organization experiences failure or success.
Culture begins with top management and works its way down from there. I have seen companies have to close their doors because of a poor culture and I have seen others thrive because of a strong one. To quote Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Not that strategy is unnecessary, but rather, it is basically useless if the culture is wrong.
The good news is that culture is easily within leadership’s control and can be created and shaped with the following steps.
6 Steps to Creating a Productive Culture
1. Have a Shared vision
The central vision of the organization will usually come from top management. However, that doesn’t mean the individuals who make up the team shouldn’t have their own personal vision statement that ties in with the overall purpose of the company.
If the primary vision is to provide quality products that solve a problem for their customers, then every member of the team should definitely buy into that. However, they should also expand on it in a way that encompasses their strengths, position, and personality. Even the janitorial staff should know how their position aids in the success of the company.
Strong leaders take the time to share their vision with their team while encouraging them to create and align their vision with the organizations.
2. Have Clearly Established and Demonstrated Values
Successful organizations clearly articulate what values are most important within their culture and exemplify them from the top down. If the leaders in your organization say one thing and then do the opposite, everyone below them will get frustrated and more than likely, follow their example. Monkey see, monkey do is the rule, not monkey hear, monkey do. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you are speaks so loudly I can not hear what you are saying.”
When upper management cuts corners, is short with others, talks negatively about others, arrives late to meetings, or bends the rules to fit only their circumstances, others on their team will begin to believe those actions are acceptable. At this point, they will either follow suit or start searching for a different organization to work at. Both leads to eventual failure.
3. Leaders are Approachable and Visible
An effective culture has strong leaders who find the time to circulate throughout the organization getting to know their entire team. They value the opinions of everyone from the janitorial staff, to the temps as well as management.
When leaders hide behind closed doors and devalue the people that work for them, the culture becomes stifled. Many times this creates animosity and negativity towards upper management which facilitates and us versus them culture.
By being approachable, leaders break down those barriers, and the culture becomes an us or we culture where everyone is on the same side.
4. Have a People First Attitude
The best leaders listen and seek to understand everyone’s point of view. They place people above the bottom line by valuing them as a person first and an employee second.
Great leaders know that to get the best out of others, they must build a relationship of trust. This type of rapport can only be gained by creating a climate of respect that comes from understanding not all people have the same needs and must feel valued.
Introverts, for example, have different needs than extroverts. Demanding that everyone works in an open environment is unfair to the introvert who may function better in a quiet space. This isn’t to say that introverts can’t work with others, but rather there are times when the introvert will need a more secluded space than the extrovert will require.
5. Empower People Through Clearly Defined Procedures
When people experience a lack of control in their environments, they often end up feeling helpless. Which in turn leads to feeling stressed, angry and at its worse depressed.
On the other hand, when workers are empowered because they know the procedures for handling the different situations that may arise during their day, the opposite happens. They are more optimistic, creative and productive. The culture thrives because workers know what to do within the parameters of the set procedures.
Also, management is free to spend their time doing what they do best instead of having to continually respond to things that can easily be accomplished by their team.
6. Make Culture A Priority
Effective organizations with productive environments make culture a priority. This is easily done by starting meetings with open discussions on the current culture and listening intently to everyone’s opinions and ideas. But it can’t stop there. Just giving lip service to something, without follow up, will only leave people feeling pacified. It is like putting a band-aid on a broken arm.
To create a thriving culture that produces the best results is challenging. But in today’s competitive world, it is a must. For organizations to be the best they can be, everyone involved must be performing at full throttle. And for this to happen, they must be a part of a culture that allows them to enjoy what they are doing, and where they are doing it.
Question: What improvements need to be made to your organization’s culture? You can leave a comment by clicking here.