Five Ways Leaders Shape Company Culture
How great leaders shape and frame company culture? Why is it so important to shape the culture of your company? How to drive your expansion and your business growth by framing a fresh new culture inside your organization?
Company culture remains a critical method for firms to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Indeed, some firms, such as Zappos, have now made it their USP and have seen exponential rise in sales as a result. At a more basic level, every employee wants to enjoy their work, to feel motivated on a Monday morning and feel that their contribution in the workplace is valued.
Culture is the very fabric that holds our leadership and our workforce together.
Ultimately, your company culture defines who you are, your values, what you believe in, and your core mission. A poor culture can have reverse effects and make a negative impact on the company’s bottom line.
The emergence of a company culture is inevitable. It will build itself with or without your help.
The only way, however, to create a culture that accurately represents the company’s core values is for leadership to step up and take a prime role in building a positive culture.
In short, culture is the backbone of an organization. And guess what? Leadership can make or break it.
WarningThe choices leaders make, their communication style, and how they handle success and failures can have a positive or negative ripple effect on employee engagement and performance.
As a leader, if you think your culture has room for improvement, here are five simple ways to create a better experience for your team and build a great workplace culture that can help you stand out in the market, and make employees feel engaged and valued.
High Ethical and Moral Standards
You will operate from a set of values, and make sure people know why those values are important. The essence of values needs to be implanted in the hearts and minds of everyone, and behaviors need to be consistent with them.
A plaque on the wall does not make for good values. It has to start with the leaders.
People living up to their highest standards makes for good values and an environment where people can trust each other and their leaders.
Trust is the glue that holds people together in a framework of positive purpose.
WarningWithout trust, we are just playing games with each other, hoping to get through the day unscathed. The most significant way leaders help create trust is by rewarding candor, which is accomplished by not punishing people for speaking their truth.
Avoid trying to motivate people by adding hygiene factors, like picnics, bonuses, or hat days.
Motivation is derived by treating people with respect and giving them clear vision and autonomy. Building motivation also means treating people the right way, which includes good reinforcement.
Company culture isn’t something that develops out of thin air. It is established in the earliest days of a organization’s existence, and the founders of a company must commit to setting the groundwork for a culture they see beneficial for everyone.
Have you heard the phrase tone at the top? It means company leaders must lead by example.
More specifically, it means they must determine whether, and to what extent, a company and its team members value things like transparency, integrity, high-quality communication skills, cheerfulness, commitment to ethics and much more.
When it’s done right, company culture helps set the tone for employee attitudes and work ethic.
It starts with crafting core values that explicitly articulate the principles under which every employee is expected to operate. The right values inspire self-governance — driving employees to work harder, smarter, and more closely as a team.
EQ & Social Intelligence
The ability to work well with people is critical. Without Emotional Intelligence, leaders do not have the skill to transform intentions into meaning within people. Leaders with low Emotional Intelligence also have the most significant blind spots in how they are perceived by other people.
This means spending time with your people, and not for your own personal gain.
This is about investing time with your most valued employees and managers that report to you to learn who they really are. The focus should be to deepen relatedness — by sharing information about yourself and the organization (transparency), showing that you care about them (empathy), and discussing your intentions openly.
Great leaders work well together with others more than on their own — collaborating alongside their tribe instead of separate from them.
And they replicate that environment for other leaders to practice. They care less about status, position, rank and level, and more about innovation, creativity, and culture, and personally model collaboration that is contagious and palpable.
Great leaders celebrate differences, and gain the strength that comes from differences in not only race or ethnicity, but also personality type, gender, faith-tradition, and individuality of style, thought and expression. They do this with one aim in mind: to build a healthy and productive work community where there is a steady flow and diversity of ideas, and fresh perspectives that lead to results.
Mindfulness is a major buzzword as more people are practicing self-awareness strategies to center themselves.
But mindful leaders set the tone for greater understanding, acceptance, and empathy. And these are important values to spread throughout your workplace.
Assessing the emotions of your employees is crucial. Conduct cultural interviews, or if they like to remain anonymous, pass out cultural surveys.
WarningThe goal of any organization is to find opportunities for growth, but if your employees aren’t satisfied in their roles, this can have insidious effects. Get insight on ways you can improve their work environment, engagement, and outlook on the company.
Accountability & Responsibility
When everyone is aware of their role within the hierarchy, and how their job matters to the big picture, they can be held accountable if they’re not working with company values in mind. And the same applies to you and other leaders.
Accountability can be enforced with clearly set goals, for the company, and for each individual team.
Benchmarks need to be set, and processes continually evaluated. When a goal isn’t reached, you should hold yourself accountable, as well as those involved in that particular project or process.
Another way to shape a positive company culture is to know when you made a mistake and admit it.
Talk about challenges that you face or have faced, and what you could have done differently after a failure. It serves no one to look the other way when something goes wrong, even if you weren’t directly involved in the problem.
C-suite leaders often have trouble emotionally connecting with employees on the front line. Praise positive behavior and endorse employee behaviors that exemplify company values. Recognition programs are an excellent way to embed recognition into daily work and hold people accountable in a positive way.
To consistently reinforce the company culture and values, leaders must exemplify the qualities they expect of their staff and model the behaviors they want practiced.
There will be greater team buy-in when leadership is engaged with the company’s objectives and values, which will help bring employees together and unite toward a common goal. To transform a toxic work culture to a healthy community will take monumental strides, but it is possible with visionary leaders acting on a vision, setting the stage, and modeling the desired behaviors.
When core values are in place, team members will start to hold themselves and their peers accountable for meeting them.
Written values also create a common language through which you can celebrate successes or point out shortcomings. It’s often simple actions that enforce a standard of behavior and conduct in an organization.
Leaders cannot assume that their employees feel heard. They must be diligent about encouraging honest feedback from their employees. Using an always-on engagement chat experience, frequent pulse surveys, and single-click polls can provide a great platform for gathering employee feedback.
Leaders need to listen to all employees and treat them equally.
This creates a company culture in which each worker feels valued and feels like they have an important place in the office. Let newer employees speak up in meetings. Create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing.
Collaboration between leadership and the rest of the company is a vital component of building a positive culture and ensuring business success.
WarningOrganizations should try to keep their employees informed as much as possible. This requires transparency and a commitment to effective and constant communication between all levels of the organization.
Leaders who want their team to commit to the culture, need to commit as well. This means being present at events, getting excited about new services or product launches, and connecting with staff. In order for these efforts to be effective, however, you need to be consistent.
Except no one likes to be playing the violin while the Titanic sinks.
The idea that workers will be content to continue their work without any information regarding the true state of affairs is, like the Titanic itself, from a different era. Today’s intentional leader strives for a culture of transparency within the organization, one that communicates where the ship is headed (and why the destination might be different than it was).
The most engaged employees receive consistent feedback on what they do well and where they need to improve.
Engaged employees, as it turns out, outperform the least engaged employees by 22 percent in terms of profitability. Two-way feedback gives all team members a comfortable channel for raising concerns and ideas that may affect your company’s success.
Everyone has to be on the same page, and that requires you to effectively communicate your own values and how they translate into company values.
Once you create a set of values that are based on mutual understanding, respect, and the actual value of your services or products, you can better communicate what drives the company. These values should be listed on your website and promoted in company meetings and communications.
Promote & Reward
Reinforcement is the most powerful tool leaders have for changing behavior. In a learning environment, errors in reinforcement provide clues to how an improved system of reward and recognition can enhance the meaning of work.
Don’t make the mistake of undervaluing the power of employee recognition. Your employees want to know they make a difference.
WarningThey want to know that their work matters. The best way you can show them that you value them as an employee is to provide frequent recognition. Employee recognition can help to solidify your company culture and keep your employees feeling appreciated.
It’s all too easy to overlook the power of a thank you. To show that you are paying attention, however, it’s important to recognize your team’s accomplishments.
Whether this comes in the form of a promotion or a company-wide shout out, creating a feedback-rich environment is a great way to get your employees excited about their impact and eager to do more.
Employees are looking for a culture that allows them to succeed, not just on the job but also in other areas of their lives. People want to find success on the job. They want to know their contributions make a difference and that they are valued. Rather than throwing money at the problem, the intentional leader looks for ways to get out of the employee’s way. There are two words for this: autonomy and acknowledgment.
Be fair and objective when deciding who is going to advance.
Don’t let it be a popularity contest or else that is where the workplace culture will gravitate. Always interview every qualified applicant.
Give every employee an equal shot at success. It is an easy way to help maintain good rapport among the ranks.
WarningNo one likes the boss’s pets so don’t accumulate any. Promote the people who deserve it, not just the ones with whom you want to work a little closer.
Company culture is the ethos of the organization. It’s what motivates, inspires and drives your organization. It’s a sum of each employee’s values, knowledge and interactions with one another.
It is not shocking that effective leadership correlates to great organizational cultures.
After all, leadership is defined as someone who has influence or authority, and leaders can reinforce values while simultaneously holding people accountable. Influence over others can be either positive or negative based on the leadership style and execution of strategy.
It is more apparent than ever that today’s workforce needs an effective leadership style that transcends changing organizational principles.
Effective leadership shapes the employee experience, employee engagement, and wellbeing, all which are critical to a thriving workplace culture.
Company culture starts with leaders. It’s not enough to simply state company values.
WarningYou have to do your part to uphold them. Otherwise, the company culture you want won’t materialize. And your own values must align with those of your company.
The most important thing you can do as a leader is to understand how your words and actions impact company culture.
These five strategies will help you foster a positive work environment where all employees can uphold company values, and you can lead by an honest, reliable example. What do you think is the most efficient way to shape company culture? Is there anything that you’ve learned from your own experience that I’m missing here? Let me know in the comment section below!