In March of 2017, Entrepreneur and CultureIQ released a list of 153 best company cultures in America. Entrepreneur’s article on the subject explains that the culture of a business has a significant impact on its performance in the marketplace. Businesses with a clearly defined culture do well. That’s good news, right? If you foster a positive company culture, you’ll reap the benefits.
But let me back up just a little bit. What is a company culture? To state it briefly, company culture is how your business approaches the art of doing business. Your culture is reflected in how you choose to treat customers and employees. Your organization’s philosophy or vision and your mission statement are all rolled up into its culture too. But beyond what your company says it will do in its policy statements or employee manuals, the culture of the organization represents what you and your employees actually do.
Components of a Winning Culture
So what makes a great corporate culture? Forbes reports on what makes three top-rated companies special in its article titled, Company Culture Tips from the Best Places to Work. What did they find? People want to work at companies that offer their employees opportunities, flexibility, authenticity, transparency, and empowerment. And, of course, top performing companies communicate well.
Yeah, you knew I’d get there eventually: it’s all about communication. Verbal and nonverbal, words and deeds, communication is the key to a strong, successful organization.
Communicate Methods that Nurture Collaboration and Empowerment
Since I’m a communication kind of guy, let’s take a look at that component of corporate culture more closely. How should organization’s manage communications to encourage and empower their employees? How can your communications plan guide your employees to work together as a team?
Give employees the power to speak up.
In a 2016 report on the challenges facing HR professionals, Employee Channel revealed that providing open communications was a top priority of nearly three-fourths of HR executives. However, most HR departments were still relying on one-way communications.
Newsletters, emails, and social media posts are a great way to keep your employees informed. But truly great companies engage in two-way conversations at all levels. This is where true employee empowerment comes from. When anyone in the organization can point out a problem or present an idea and be heard, innovation thrives.
To encourage more dialogue at all levels, sponsor townhalls, multi-department meetings, and internal web forums. Utilize new technologies to open more channels of communication to your staff at all levels. Have some fun with it — give gamification a try!
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
I can’t emphasize this enough. The old adage is still true: actions speak louder than words. In his article, Corporate culture is what you do, not what you say you do, Hamad Buamim writes that more than the written policies, “it is the company’s other policies, procedures, informal signals, leadership style and reward system that determine its actual culture.”
If you want to nurture innovation, don’t tell your employees that it is okay to take risks and then punish those who take risks and fail. Don’t market your company as having a reputation for high ethical standards and then fail to uphold those standards in your internal business dealings.
Be authentic. Posters on the wall claiming that offensive behavior won’t be tolerated are meaningless if employees regularly see managers or executives engaging in improper conduct.
Identify and encourage positive behaviors.
Maintaining your business culture requires attention. It isn’t enough to just state your expectations and hope for everything to fall into place. Management and team leaders should be empowered and encouraged to identify employees who have performed well. Continually reinforce the behaviors that reflect your company’s core values and mission. If you want your organization to be a hub of collaboration and innovation then reward collaboration and innovation. Nurture the actions that make your organization great and prune away those that don’t.
Just talk…and listen.
You probably know by now that I am a big fan of listening. Talking to your staff and listening to what they have to say seems like an obvious way to communicate. But often as you rise higher in an organization’s hierarchy, time spent talking to frontline staff becomes limited or non-existent. Yet active listening and soliciting ideas and input from your team remains important no matter what your title.
Publisher Inc. writes that Richard Branson solicits feedback from rank and file employees by walking through the workplace— in his case, an airline cabin –and talking to individual staffers. In Leaders Who Get Change Right Know How to Listen, Harvard Business Review profiles how Anne Mulcahy and Ray C. Anderson leveraged conversations with employees to help their organizations attain success.
Create a Culture that Cultivates Success
Great things happen when people work together as a team. Everyone within an organization has an impact on its ultimate success or failure. Through careful guidance and communication, you can help your organization pull together as a powerful team. If you want to learn more about team building and internal communications, check out some of BostonSpeaks’ recent talks. I’ve collected advice from many successful individuals on how they use communication to achieve their goals. Have a listen and get inspired!