It’s rare that any organization functions well and productively without a positive and fluid culture among its people. A great company or organization commits to the hard work of creating company culture.
A great work culture creates a space where employees enjoy being at work, they’re incentivized toward positive behavior, and where social connections inspire productivity.
A toxic work culture does the opposite. Workers feel drained by negative interpersonal dynamics. They hold disjointed visions of proper behavior and negative attitudes toward an inequitable system of incentives.
A high-functioning culture in the workplace is elusive and difficult to craft. Many of the most resource-rich companies in the world struggle to alleviate a toxic culture among their workers. Popular strategies to creating company culture include providing workers with game rooms, free massages, and limitless vacation days. Perks rarely work. A great culture rather requires a shared vision, values, and behaviors.
First: Call a meeting with all stakeholders, from the highest bosses to the lowest line workers. Don’t exclude critical perspectives from unexpected corners of the office.
Second: Agree on a definition of “culture,” something like beliefs, values, and patterns of accepted behavior.
Third: Define your company’s core values. State out loud what the company’s purpose is, what each worker finds value in that work, and the ideals those workers should be encouraged to strive toward.
Fourth: Explain what patterns of behavior should be sanctioned to fulfill each value.
Fifth: Identify the values that currently require the most work to be realized, and which, if they became standard, would have the most positive impact on office culture.
Sixth: Explain how these behaviors should be practiced and explore ways to encourage and incentivize them in the workplace. Be open to exploring skills development, leadership support, and removing organization impediments to these behaviors.
Seventh: Socialize these new values and behaviors through official communication and require the leadership to set good examples. Reward workers for adopting the behaviors that best fulfill the company’s new stated values. Most importantly, make sure key leaders are not able to skirt the new rules, or the entire program could be doomed.
Okay, great. You’ve settled on your company’s core values and thought about ways to practice what you preach. Now, create a set of makers and goals that you can work towards together. If you believe in equity and equal opportunity, how can this be measured and strived towards? Make a plan.
This conversation will be ongoing. Things will change, hard topics will come up. However, living these values will create a better culture and will ensure much higher quality work and productivity. It’s in everyone’s best interest.
Group office experiences are a key way to work on values and creating company culture. Volunteering programs which allow the whole office to come together and realize their values through action are especially effective. Look into programs like IPMM’s Sponsor A School program for an immersive way to get the whole office involved in giving back and weaving the fabric of a better workplace culture.
Though companies exist to achieve a bottom line, they are fueled by humans who can’t perform well in an interpersonally toxic environment. An investment in culture could be the best bottom line investment you make all year.
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