We talk a lot about company culture (or corporate culture) and with good reason. It’s the foundation of your company. It’s what makes you YOU. Think about that for a minute. Every procedural thing you do -- your strategies, your marketing, your products, even your company benefits and perks -- can be replicated by someone else. But your culture can’t. Your company culture is the one thing that sets you apart from every other company and makes your employees show up for YOU, day after day, week after week, and (hopefully) year after year.
A strong organizational culture is therefore essential. If you don’t believe me, then take it from more than 1,500 North American CEOs and CFOs in charge of high-level businesses. In a joint study conducted by professors at Columbia Business School and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in 2015,
- 90% of executives said culture is important at their firms;
- 78% said culture is among the top 5 things that make their company valuable;
- 92% said they believe improving their firm’s corporate culture would improve the value of the company.
A strong company culture is critical. Unfortunately, it’s also often underdeveloped. In the same study, only 15% of respondents said their own corporate cultures were where they needed to be. Do you feel the same? Do you understand the importance of building company culture, but feel it lacking in your own business? You’re not alone if you do.
If your company culture is lacking, I suspect you’re doing one (or more) of these 3 things.
- You’re ignoring it all together.I know, the phone is ringing off the hook, you’re late for your meetings, you need a new assistant, and there just isn’t time right now. Small business owners are tasked with virtually every aspect of their companies, and it’s easy to get caught up in just putting out the fires. But letting company culture fall by the wayside is like shoving all your belongings into the closet to clean up for guest. Yes, the house looks clean and tidy for a time, but eventually, you have to open that closet door and everything comes tumbling out -- and this time it’s wrinkled, battered, or broken altogether. The same goes for ignoring your company culture. Yes, tasks get completed on time, but eventually, you’re left with unhappy, unproductive, disgruntled employees that will leave at the drop of a hat -- or worse, intentionally harm your company. Don’t go there.
- You’re not having any fun.Yes, everything needs to get done, and small business employees often have to wear many hats, but no one can stare at a computer for 9 hours a day and stay productive and happy for very long. No one.Are you encouraging camaraderie and lightheartedness in your office? Are employees laughing together and showing bonds of friendship (at least office friendship)? Are you encouraging work/life balance with meaningful perks like wellness programs and flex-time? Are you paying attention to the physical condition of your office, making sure it’s an inviting, familial, comfortable place to be? If you’re not, you have a problem. Employees need those things to stay the course.
- You’re allowing gossip in.Communication is good. Healthy, good natured, inspiring, passionate, productive, effective communication that inspires problem-solving is good. Ranting, tattling, or just “talking smack” about a person or situation with no resolution in mind is caustic. Get it out of your organization.How are you letting gossip in? By allowing employees to seek your counsel but then just listening to them rant. Truly seeking counsel means that no specifics are included. The person says things like, “I’m having an issue with a co-worker and I’d like your advice on how to handle it,” and not, “Sally next to me never completes her portion of the weekly report on time and I end up having to do it and I’m just sick of her laziness.” Do you see the difference?Gossip will kill your organization because it diminishes trust between employees. Have a zero-tolerance policy for gossip.
There are many elements to building a strong organizational core, but I truly believe the three things mentioned here are what tears it down the fastest. If any of these habits sound familiar to you, it’s time to make a change.
Tell us your thoughts! What kinds of actions do you believe build or destroy company culture?