With all of the talk out there about company culture these day, one would think they are giving out Nobel prizes to best in the world.
I personally think that people write about how great the culture is in other companies because they want to work at the “cool company” instead of where they are working. (This isn’t one of those articles-in case you were wondering).
On the contrary, while I praise companies who seek to create great cultures and feel that they are necessary for the survival of a business (employee retention and attraction being important), I get the sense that everyone is missing the mark on what really creates good company culture.
Yes, your in-house gym, on-site daycare, remote working and free trips are great, but they aren’t your culture. Perks? Yes. But without the right culture they become ploys to lure people to come work for you, traps to make them stay, and guilt trips to make them produce the work of 5 people while getting paid for the work of one.
Do any of those things actually create or drive the company culture? No.
What really drives company culture?
You do. The leader of the company.
You can sign off on incentives and programs, but that doesn’t drive your culture.
You do. The leader of the company.
If we want engaged, energized and excited work cultures, it starts with us.
If we aren’t all in, our employees won’t be either.
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I help clients with culture. So, when I hear a business owner complain about theirs, I bite my lip and nod, and ask them where the issue is coming from. They usually blame a supervisor, manager, or a certain division. The truth is, it’s their fault, and the buck stops with them.
Just ask Secret Service Chief, Joe Clancy what a neglected culture can do to your organization.
Somewhere along the process with company leaders, a lightbulb goes off and come to realize the power of their presence, values, and involvement in their own company culture.
No one intentionally sets out to have a toxic company culture. They want to have a company that people want to be a part of and they want to keep good people and attract great ones to join their team. It’s easier to control their culture when they first start out. Then their baby grows up and get too big to sit on their lap anymore. They hire, and delegate, and next thing you know, their baby has moved 1,000 miles away and never calls.
Now you have high turnover, your mediocre employees are even heading for the hills; the press about your company is bad enough to keep potentially good employees from applying; no one really knows what your company stands for anymore. And the worst part, your poor culture means decreasing profits. Even if your profits are holding steady due to market/product development, that stable net profit margin is only masking the underlying problem of bad culture.
If any of this sounds familiar in the company you work for or own, you are in desperate need of a culture overhaul. And that overhaul starts at the top.
I have seen whole cultures turn into mayhem because the leader valued an ends justifies the means approach and surrounded himself with others with like values. The result was a culture with a toxicity level in the red zone. They are on their way to changing that now, but the change couldn’t start until the leadership did.
If you find yourself in this position, it’s not too late.
The following are 5-steps I use to help companies create and overhaul their culture.
- Re-evaluate what you want your company to be about.
- Re-align yourself with those same things
- Rely on input from your employees who still believe
- Re-cast your vision
- Restock your team
Hard work? You bet. Does it happen overnight? No. Additionally, once you get your culture to where you want it, it takes work to keep it there.
If your culture needs an overhaul, start with you. When you are all-in, your your organization will be too.