A great corporate culture is an asset to the bottom line. An ineffective culture, however, can be very costly. The corporate culture of an organization is the difference between a great place to work and one that is chronically drained by spending energy to bring in and retain good talent. Personally, I am always surprised at how many organizations are not pro-actively creating a culture that cultivates and attracts the type of employees they desire.
So how is a corporate culture created, even in a small business?
The first step to creating a great culture within an organization is to understand that a culture is going to develop whether or not you plan for it. If cultural outcomes are not strategically developed, the result is going to be less than ideal.
Take, for example, a company that is extremely pro-active in finding efficiencies (cost cutting initiatives) yet fails to work at creating a desirable culture. The company will experience a culture of efficiency, often meaning that the bottom line is more important than employees. Employees may become fearful as rules (in areas of attendance and sales goals) overpower the positive attributes an employee brings to the organization.
A culture is naturally going to develop in your organization, therefore, it is much more beneficial to be in control of the outcome of that culture. Be involved in designing the culture. Be pro-active.
Ban Complaining & Gossip
Nothing destroys a corporate culture quicker than someone who complains about their job, the company, or the customers whom they serve. Complaining is like a disease. It starts with one person and rapidly spreads to everyone in contact. The worst part of it is that, once it starts to spread, it becomes very difficult to contain.
Dave Ramsey, the founder of the Lampo Group, is widely know for his financial freedom radio show and book The Total Money Makeover. As Dave has developed a large team to support his efforts, he understands the importance of containing complaints, and specifically, gossip. This is why Dave has implemented a zero tolerance policy on gossip. He feels that "gossip is poison" and if an employee violates the policy, they will be fired. Period.
Find People With Passion
People are competitive by nature. No one desires to be at the bottom of the pack. Therefore, we often strive to be at least in the middle of the pack. Some people, however, want to be on top. They will do whatever it takes to out perform their peers. These people are ambitious. They have passion.
Like complaints, passion too can be contagious. As people have a natural tendency to "fit in" with the consensus of others, having passionate people who share your vision can raise the bar. Once the bar is raised, the entire group of employees work harder. If the expected grade is C, the majority of the group will meet his goal. If the expected grade is A, however, the entire group will still work to meet this goal. Passionate employees help to create a passionate culture.
Share the Vision Regularly
A culture should be designed out of the mission, vision, and strategic direction of the organization. Just as with anything in business (and human nature), when a goal is desired, the desired results must be communicated.
To establish a culture, a vision must be cast. This vision must be communicated over and over again. And again and again. Leadership must drive the culture and it has to be a consistent communication.
How pro-active have you been in creating your culture?