Every organization, company, work group or project team has its own distinct culture – be it positive or negative. Culture is an important component of building an effective and high functioning work environment. Too many organizations, even some with published mission and value statements regarding organizational climate, culture and values, do not always practice what they preach. This is actually very hard work. Simply put, corporate culture must be created at the highest level within the organization and championed and modeled at every opportunity by its leaders. I’m reminded of a saying I heard years ago relating to the raising of children – “habits are caught, not taught’. In similar fashion, employees watch like a hawk for management and leaders to consistently, and with integrity, model the values and support the stated culture. If leaders only pay lip service to what they profess then they should not expect employees to be modeling or applying the values themselves.
Here are some guidelines for creating effective culture within your company or team.
1. Culture defines employee behaviours
- If your corporate culture focuses on a specific set of performance standards and behaviours, and if employees buy-in and support them, they will reinforce or challenge one another when they witness the application or breaching of those values. This is the most powerful indicator of buy-in. When it becomes the implicit standard for “this is how we act around here”, then the desired culture is firmly embedded within the organization.
2. Culture defines and influences top to front line decision making
- When employees know that the stated corporate culture is real, it enables them to know what to do; how to do it; how to act and behave. They are also able to make judicious decisions with the intrinsic confidence that they are making wise and value-based choices.
3. Culture builds performance capability
- When corporate culture is clearly defined and desired core behaviours are repeated, they become habits and a way of life within the organization. The biggest benefit is that people become faster and better at executing tasks, making decisions and trusting each other.
4. Culture ensures that daily behaviours and crisis responses are consistent
- When the organizational culture is one of doing the right things and doing things right, the state of “unconscious competence” is achieved and the application of the corporate values and practices becomes the norm. It is no surprise then when employees face a crisis or challenge; they instinctively know how to react.
“To be an enduring, great company, you have to build a mechanism for preventing or solving problems that will long outlast any one individual leader.” ~ Howard Schultz