Co-creating Company Culture: A Shared Responsibility and Reward
You can feel it.
There’s a buzz of creative potential and natural productivity in the air.
People are engaged and focused on their individual tasks, in shared conversation, or working together.
Things seem fluid and natural.
Not strained or lethargic. You can just TELL it’s a great place to work.
Most of us have experienced walking into a business establishment and readily gauged whether or not the environment is a healthy and inspiring place to be. Inherently, we sense the quality of the culture.
A well-known definition of business culture is “the way things are done around here,” and yet often enough when someone asks about the culture of an organization, they are curious about much more than how things get done.
More so, they are wondering if people actually enjoy coming to work. Do they get taken care of well by the employer? Are they productive together and do they have fun doing so? Are they proud to be there?
Thankfully, I come from company cultures where people regularly report being excited to return back after vacation, loving their coworkers and feeling lucky to be a member of the team. It’s my mission to work with leaders and build vital cultures that fulfill purposeful missions in the world. I’ve had the pleasure of growing award winning cultures, as well as shifting dysfunctional cultures into stable and successful work environments. Although the effort of building a thriving culture is not always easy or fun, it is extremely worthwhile.
Many of the world’s leading business success experts suggest that a strong degree of organizational health in company culture creates remarkable business advantages.
- Conflict is addressed and solutions are deployed more readily.
- Mergers, acquisitions and pivots roll out with a spirit of adaptability and optimism.
- Productivity is high and confusion is minimal.
- New team members are welcomed and set up to succeed both personally and professionally.
- The creative genius of the workforce is tapped and workers are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty on a regular occurrence.
- People experience fulfillment and life has more meaning.
Whether you’re in a large or small enterprise, you will experience significant business advantage as well as personal benefit in building a wholesome culture in your workplace.
Consider culture as the lump sum of all the people and transactions of the business, as well as the ‘air’ in between any interaction. Culture as the very lifeblood and pulse of an enterprise. It may help to imagine it as a weather pattern that governs the energy of day to day business. “Clear skies ahead” will create a different energy than “cloudy with a chance of rain.” In this way, culture fuels the will power, mindset, and spirit of every person that interacts with the business. Everyone contributes to culture and everyone is affected by it.
Because of the dynamic aspect of culture, fostering a thriving company culture cannot be done solely by the company leadership. With something that flows in every direction (top down, bottom up and across), company culture must be fostered through multiple ongoing actions, as well as from multiple angles and approaches- all carrying consistent and congruent message value. This in turn, pervades through all levels, departments and processes of the business.
As we all know, the role of a leader in any organization is the place where “the buck stops” and the visionary goals and standards are set for the organization. In his recent book The Advantage, business leadership expert Patrick Lencioni states:
The role of leadership and the company is to set the initial vision, standards, conditions and allowances for the company culture and organizational health. Leadership must put in place the policies to protect and uphold the culture and regularly demonstrate the importance and impact the culture has.
Yet because it is the synergistic sum total effect, the company culture truly belongs to and is created by every member of the enterprise. So whether you are the leader or a team member at any other level, take a stance where it truly is everyone’s responsibility to do their part in making an amazing business—starting with your own. As a part of hiring criteria, only accept candidates that will undoubtedly be a contribution to the culture and add to overall alignment in the business.
Be sure that the ingredients which make your company culture vibrant and valuable are made explicit and acknowledged on a regular basis, and that the responsibility of recognizing these values is distributed throughout the organization.
- Create regular rhythms and fun workplace rituals of productive, creative team connection- and circulate who is responsible for hosting them.
- During onboarding, include team members from multiple departments to welcome the new teammate and address the importance of company culture.
- Create simple forums that acknowledge coworkers who are contributing to a productive workplace culture- let everyone speak and offer accolade to each other.
- Build a Company Culture Manifesto to identify and articulate the spirit in which things get done and what is valued for moving forward in the business. Refer to it regularly, make skits about it, find soundbites within it and socialize them like crazy.
- Survey the team, host regular focus groups or open floor discussions that read the barometer of the company culture. Identify and address areas of focus and new ideas around how foster the vibrancy of the company culture.
When the spirit of the company culture is consistently recognized as collectively held and everyone’s shared responsibility, amazing things happen. Not only is there remarkable bottom line business advantage, the personal and professional fulfillment that is generated by way of a vibrant working culture carries reward beyond measure.
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