Company culture is all about the purpose, values, and expectations shared by the people working within
the company. It cultivates talent and binds every employee and executive with a vision.
When it comes to company culture, the size of the business actually has very little relevance to the
effectiveness of its culture. Even if you run a sole proprietorship business, the culture your business
develops will have a profound effect on its success.
Because the foundation of any business’ culture will be based on the company’s specific purpose, values
and norms, every business builds a culture that’s unique to its needs and identity.
When organizations build a thriving culture, they foster an environment of trust and collaboration.
HOW TO BUILD A THRIVING CULTURE
1. Find out What Employees Want
A recent report showed that more than 50% of employees don’t think their company has a robust workplace culture.
That’s a huge disconnect. Company leaders can improve employee buy-in and engagement by asking them directly what they value, what they want in a company and what changes in the workplace would inspire and empower them.
2. Practice Empathy
Empathy is probably the most valuable skill humans learn in their lifetimes. Human society relies on it, and so must company culture.
Demonstrating empathy in the workplace requires that we reserve judgment of others, expect and encourage the best of people and develop pro-social company values. A culture built on empathy has real staying power.
3. Learn Constantly
For a company and its culture to be durable and resilient, it must rely on a foundation of ongoing learning and experimentation.
Company leaders must cast a wide net when it comes to knowledge and perspectives, and they have to take an interest in every part of their company and industry to understand how all the pieces in the machine must evolve.
4. Rethink Employee Evaluations
Company leadership touching base with employees and helping them grow, make adjustments or reach for more challenging responsibilities is part of any company’s fabric and culture.
But not every employee evaluation format is successful in inspiring employees and keeping them engaged over time. For a culture to thrive, it should depend on less formal and more frequent meetings between
leaders and team members.
5. Create Mentorship Opportunities
In addition to changing the style and pacing of employee evaluations, companies should also take every opportunity to create mentorship opportunities. Whichever way you look at it, this can only strengthen your company’s culture and make it more resilient.
Newer employees will learn the ropes faster with less frustration, existing employees can explore cross-training and, at the same time, the company ensures that it retains skill mastery over time, even as veterans depart.
6. Give the World Something in Return
Social responsibility and workers’ rights are hot issues right now. Customers are wise to the fact that they can deserve something more from companies in return for brand loyalty: things like cleaner supply chains, fairer working conditions, community give-backs, more inclusiveness, and constructive participation in social issues.
These are issues that never go out of style, and the companies that refuse to compromise on them are likeliest to thrive in the long term.
7. Commit to Open Communication
Mutual understanding is key in any human enterprise. When it comes to company culture, open communication is about whether, and how often, you choose to share information about the state of the company with employees.
It also requires that you choose leaders and representatives within your organization as much for their candor, clarity, willingness to listen, and other “soft skills” as for their mastery of industry-related skills.
8. Have Each Department Define Its Values
We’ve mentioned company values a couple of times already. But if yours is like most companies, you don’t have one team, but several. Each of these teams represents a distinct cultural microcosm with unique missions and values.
What are these? Make time for your departments and teams to create and then regularly revisit a set of values that’s all their own. It makes the purpose behind the work more real and gives it a better chance of sustainability over time.
9. Trust Your People
Everybody says, “Trust must begin somewhere.” But how many people live it? The strength and staying power of a company, and the culture it exports to the community and the world, depends a great deal on how willing that company is to trust employees at every level. People want to do their best work and make independent decisions about how they do it.
They also benefit from having time and opportunity set aside regularly so they can try new ideas — even, as the case may be, ideas that don’t pan out as expected. Trusting your employees’ intuition, hunches, and willingness to do what’s best is an investment that regularly pays dividends.
10. Take Time to Celebrate
A productivity-at-all-costs mentality is unhealthy for everybody involved. Companies are often quick to focus on what’s not going 100% according to plan. But triumphs and milestones, and the people responsible for them, are very much worth celebrating. Find creative ways to recognize outstanding performance. And when the company as a whole accomplishes something awesome, include everybody in the accolades with a celebration and time away from their workstations.
It’s relatively easy to develop a culture that works for a day or a week. It’s a little harder, but infinitely more rewarding, to create one that lasts and builds on its successes over time.