When you think of company culture, many things may come to mind. Of course, there are the flashier aspects of company culture (think in-office happy hours or team bowling outings). There are also more subtle elements, such as how workspaces are arranged. While these are undoubtedly parts of a company’s culture, they are not what is at the core.
The culture of a business starts at the very top. The leadership styles of executives set the tone for a company’s internal culture. Leadership affects all aspects of business, including perceived values and goals, communication norms, and employee engagement. Let’s look at how your leadership can connect your company’s culture with the big picture.
Begin by being aligned and intentional. If you try to sell your employees on a set of standards and ideals that are not reflected in the way you lead, your company culture will be inconsistent and ineffective. Aligning your leadership style with your company’s core values is paramount.
For example, if you want your staff to sacrifice for the good of the team, you have to be out there in the trenches with them. If you want to foster open communication, you have to create an environment where employees feel that they can honestly share their thoughts. If you want a company that strives for innovation, you have to give your team the space to explore.
Think about your company’s stated beliefs, values, and intentions. Then, consider whether the way you lead encourages behavior that aligns with those. During this exercise, don’t think about the way you want to lead﹘ think about the way you do lead on a daily basis. Consistency is vital to the success of each of your team members and your company as a whole. In short, you must practice what you preach.
After some reflection, you may realize that your company’s culture does not align with your core values. Unfortunately, creating or correcting aspects of corporate culture takes time. When making big changes, you have to take steps to make the change and give your team the reasons behind the shift.
For example, if you tell your employees that you are going to focus more on collaboration, but keep the work environment and team structures the same, you’re not going to see the results you desire. On the other hand, if you change the work environment and team structures without giving employees the reason behind the need for more collaboration, you still might not see the results you want.
Aspects of company culture are most effective when they solve a problem that employees care about. When improving your company’s culture, think about the issues that affect your staff and the solutions that could be implemented to resolve them. Then, sell this idea to your team. If they truly believe in the “why” that backs up an idea, they are more likely to get behind it.
All leaders are unique; and therefore, all companies will have different internal cultures. It’s important to create yours with your vision of the company in mind. Remember, a quality corporate culture is vital to a company’s long-term success.