6 Ways To Build A Strong Company Culture

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This post was inspired by discussions from a TChat hosted by TalentCulture on June 4th. Be sure to join in on conversations every Wednesday. Click here to learn more about TChats.

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70% of full-time working Americans are, according to Gallup, actively disengaged – i.e. miserable. If you’re running a company or leading a team, I’m guessing these aren’t the types of employees you want working for you. You’d benefit from taking a closer look at how your employees feel and what success looks like to them. If employees are happy and feel successful, they’ll do more to create success for your team and your company.

Work shouldn’t be another added cause of stress for people. Instead, it should be a place where employees feel appreciated for their contributions and hard work. It should be a place where authentic connections are made and employees can see they’re making a difference.

Efforts to create an effective and meaningful company culture need to come from both leaders and employees. Without one or the other, there’s bound to be failure.

Here are six practices leaders should incorporate when building company culture.

Define Culture

“Define the culture. Live the culture. Reward the culture. Explore the culture. You will always have the culture you cultivate.” – Stephen Abbot

A company’s culture should be strong, include common values, motivate employees, and have supportive leaders. Not only does a solid company culture favor high levels of employee engagement, it helps define business processes and desired outcomes.

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Naturally, the first step would be to define your company’s culture. To get started, answer a few key questions: Why are we here? What value do we offer society and our employees? How do we want to feel when we come into work everyday? Including employees in this process could prove to be beneficial, too. They will feel empowered and will understand the priorities of the company and the role they play in the bigger picture.

“As does any solid foundation, it will take time to build, so don’t rush it.” (Source)

Determine Core Values

Core values help shape company culture. It’s important not to forget how crucial establishing strong values is. Try to establish your set of values early on to ensure proper decision-making and onboarding. When a company doesn’t give much thought to defining their core values, it makes it difficult for employees and leaders to work together towards the same goals.

Here are some examples of core values from established companies and brands:

Chris Moody explains the idea behind deciding values well, “Values establish your company’s view of the world and determine how you treat others including employees, customers, etc. Most importantly, values serve as the foundation on which tough company decisions are made.”

Define them. Understand them. Put them into practice. Reinforce when necessary.

Create Valuable Experiences For Employees

If you want your employees to stick around and create value, you have to return the favor by making their experiences valuable.

“Employees are revenue generators. Wasting their time is wasting company money,” tweets Wendy Matyjevich.

As reported in this Forbes piece, a survey of 500 executives, managers, and professionals, led by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) found that working long hours wasn’t as bothersome as having their time at work wasted. Shifting strategies, indecision, inefficient processes, and poor time- and people-management were to blame for lacks in innovation.

Take the time to show employees they matter through regular check-ins and conversations, support with challenging tasks, recognition for their accomplishments, and an open door policy where they’re encouraged to speak up.

Grow Future Leaders

If you want your company to sustain a positive company culture and continued growth, leadership development programs should be looked at as a necessity, and not a perk.

As reported by Bloomberg Businessweek, the best-in-breed companies are more urgent about leadership development; they also spend more time on it—and more money, too.

Developing future leaders should become a frequent, if not daily, activity. Remember, establishing routines for most things in life and work is helpful ;)  When creating your own leadership development programs consider succession planning, mentoring programs, frequent feedback loops, and challenges that push employees out of their comfort zones.

With most things in life, you get back what you put in. It’s in your best interest to invest in future leaders at your company. While this investment may be time-consuming, its value is immeasurable.

Promote Internal Job Hopping

There will usually come a time where employees hit a plateau in their career. Don’t let this be a time where they have to look outside of your organization to move up.

Aside from being more cost effective, promoting from within your organization shows employees you appreciate and recognize their talent and hard work and increases retention rates.

Of course there has to be real career opportunities available within that are visible to your employees.

The mindset needed to recognize and leverage these opportunities is that lateral career paths are driven not by hierarchy, but by the interests, passions and possibly hidden skills of your workforce. (Source)

Don’t lose sight of the talent that is already around you!

Lead By Example

“Demonstrate the values you want to see in others. Most will follow your lead.” – Tony Vengrove

Leading by example sounds simple, but not many leaders are consistent following through with the commitment. Successful leaders walk the walk, demonstrating the qualities they expect from their employees on a regular basis.

If you’re looking for a bit of leadership inspiration, Brent Gleeson highlights seven ways to lead by example on Inc.com.

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“Culture impacts employee engagement which impacts the bottom line,” tweets Cynthia Perez.  Don’t miss out on an easy opportunity to enhance employee engagement through building strong company culture.

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-Lolly Fitzpatrick

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