1st April 2016
When you hear the term ‘company culture’ what immediately comes to mind? Perhaps it’s an airy-fairy idea that you don’t know a lot about and don’t think can relate to your business, or maybe it’s something you are aware is important but have no idea how to go about improving it in your business in a sustainable way.
No matter what your thoughts are on the concept of company culture it is something you shouldn’t ignore. It can have an enormous effect on how your business runs, grows and delivers service to customers.
Defining company culture
A culture is the values and practices shared by members of a team – you and your employees. Wikipedia lists the following factors as making up organisational culture: ‘company vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs and habits’.
Company culture exists within every business, large or small. You can identify the culture by looking around and recognising any common behaviours that exist within your team. These may be both positive and negative.
If you recognise team members who aren’t working as hard as they could be, who aren’t eager to learn new skills and go the extra mile, then the chances are you have a poor company culture. If you see team members who are happy at work and eager to learn and progress, then you probably have a good company culture, whether you planned it that way or not.
After noticing what your company culture is currently, it is important to identify what you want your company culture to look like in the future. This will be different for every single company, depending on a range of factors, including industry, number of employees, type of business and more. Importantly you need to identify types of behaviour that will support the culture you desire.
These types of behaviour will define the way in which you do things, such as the way we make decisions, the way we interact with other team members, the way you engage with customers and stakeholders and more.
Making it count
All too often businesses set out a vision and define values and then stop there. Six months later they look around and wonder why nothing has changed, and the company culture they so clearly envisioned hasn’t blossomed. They don’t realise the importance of translating company values into specific behavioural competencies so that team members know exactly what is expected of them.
Having taken this step and defined behavioural competencies there are several ways in which you can ensure they are embedded in your business and thus supporting the change to the culture you aspire to achieve:
1. The leadership team must do as their name suggests and lead the way. They can do this by demonstrating the desired behavioural traits in every part of their work. For example, if your company has identified team work to be important, team leaders should encourage group discussions, idea sharing, helping and enabling team members to achieve results, communicating with others respectfully etc.
2. Incorporate a review of the behaviours listed in the company culture regularly. This can be as simple as meeting once a month to discuss competencies, behaviours and any changes that need to be made to continue working towards positive company culture.
3. Ensure managers carrying out these reviews are well equipped with the skills they require to encourage team members to develop and improve.
4. Ensure that senior management effectively and sincerely support line managers whenever they experience challenging behaviour within their team, that is not in line with the company culture.
5. Incorporate the behavioural competencies into the recruitment process in order that you hire people who will fit well with the culture you wish to achieve in your company.