Has your workplace culture just happened or was it consciously created? A lot of smaller companies and mid sized organisations are the product of someone starting out, working really hard and then finding they had a growing team working for them. The main focus has been on getting work in the door and delivering good service. Obviously this is essential BUT….Truly good culture does not just ‘come about’, it’s well thought out, felt and decided upon through the actions that people (particularly senior management) take.
There are some key ingredients and steps to being on the right path to establishing a rock solid truly great culture and this blog will bring all of this together.
FYI- Strong workplace culture does not mean perfection at all. In fact, that old saying, ‘practice makes perfect’ is actually nonsense. Culture, like most things is fluid and needs to be flexible. ‘Practice makes progress’ is far more apt.
So what can you do to actively create the culture you want to build from and maintain the pillars that you started with? To make it simpler, I am going to list the points below with and explanation for each area. For the purposes of clarity, I am aiming this at companies who already have a team in place. If you’re starting out then putting many of these steps in place as you go will head you off in the right direction to start!
Conduct a Perception Audit- a simple process to find out what your team really thinks
- Preferably get an expert to help you with this but if you need to do it yourself, then ask questions which will give you helpful information about what people think and feel about different aspects of the company.
- Keep it anonymous
- Do not ask questions about specific individuals unless you want to get feedback and you are the MD. This is not designed as a 360 feedback on people, it’s more about the overall business.
- Ask questions around leadership, how valued they feel, career paths, description of the culture, team etc
- Collate the info you find and then look for the key issues relating to culture- make a plan to communicate these and start to work through them.
Get to grips with what your company values are
- After the audit above, really assess what you want the company to known for, what it’s key reasons are for being in business/why you as the Director/Directors are in the business- This information needs to be defined into words that can be demonstrated. This is how you come up with your core company values. It’s best to involve key members of your team in this activity.
- If behaviours are not equalling the wording, then you’ve got some issues that need to be looked into. Values are thoughts and actions, not just words/statements and so if the company cannot demonstrate the desired value then it needs to either plan to get that sorted or lose the value
Truly be open to feedback from your team
- If people feel that they can share observations, process improvement ideas, concerns and potentially even constructive feedback, you will keep them. If not, they will become disillusioned and eventually leave. People need to feel that they have a voice, are listened to and respected. This is also part of career and role progress.
- If you want progressive and productive people, they will have ideas and suggestions. The ideal scenario is that your team is made up of people who will ultimately be ‘the next generation’ as this is called succession planning.
- Expect lack of success long term if you don’t value feedback. If people are ‘too scared’ to approach you, this is NOT a good thing…
Have a consistent review and career goals process
- All individuals want to see where they fit in an organisation and where they are going- this can only happen with regular constructive reviews- I am not going to tell you what approach to take as there are many and different styles will suit different people. What I will tell you is that whatever approach you go with, ensure the following occurs:
- A consistent approach- make sure that you decide on how and when and stick to this plan
- Ensure that people are prepared- managers and individuals- have a clear outline of what the review process looks like
- Regularly check in on how goals are progressing and the value of the goals set- ie- do they resonate for your team member and are they good for the company?
- Nip issues in the bud- refer to previous blogs on ‘difficult conversations’
- Ensure that your culture really encourages two way open communication- this is essential
- Check in from one review/catchup to another in terms of progress/goals etc
Actively work on Succession Planning
- As part of the review process above ensure that you have a clear plan for succession planning – this literally means skilling people up in areas they are good at and are interested in so that gradual and consistent progress is made at all levels.
- As a business owner your interests and desires will change as well- Seniority does not have to equal getting off the tool or staying on them- it depends what you PLAN for…
- Ensure that your Strategic Plan actively links back to Succession Planning- Reviews- Values and that you’re- Seeking Feedback regularly
These 5 steps will send you on the right path to establishing, developing and managing the culture you desire for your company. REMEMBER that culture is something that is created by thoughts and actions so it needs to be CONSCIOUSLY created.
As always, remember, ‘Energy equals outcome, so make sure that you are focusing on the right things’.
For HR that really makes a difference to your company and your people. Call me at Vouch for a chat, I’m here to help you.