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The ultimate organizational culture definition! And 15 tips on how to make your culture the best.

Mathew Maniyamkott

Mathew Maniyamkott

10 min read

There is a lot riding on company culture as it makes a lot of difference in attracting the right employees, retaining them and even evoking a sense of curiosity among its potential customers. A poll by Gallup, a management consulting company, says that in a typical workforce more than 49 percent of the employees are disengaged

The fact that these stats are for a ‘typical workforce’ should act as a stinging reflection of the workplace culture today. When you provide an environment for your employees where they are in love with what they do, are appreciated for what they do and employees know that their contribution is making a difference, then you will find a majority of the employees engaged. Given the right environment, even the employees will ensure that they take care of improving the culture.

Laying down a set of guidelines on how the company will function can make a lot of difference to the psyche of the employees. Creating the right culture coupled with the perfect vision can be a winning combination. It can influence behavior and can create leaders as well which was not visible earlier thanks to the outdated system of principles and a lack of initiative from the management.

What is the definition of organizational culture?

“Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing.” – HubSpot’s Culture code

Organizational culture is defined as the expectation of the organization towards its employees and from itself, the philosophy it carries, the values that it embodies, and its interactions with each of the stakeholders. They are a bunch of customs, traditions, and beliefs that the company wants to emulate everywhere without any aberration. It also includes aspects like the logo, systems, symbols, language, habits and so on. In short, organizational culture is how the company views itself and wants the outside world to view it.

Does organizational culture definition change often?

While some of the things that are ‘written’ down as culture in organizations might look practical on paper, sometimes, there are aspects like courage, empathy, belief and more which has a much stronger impact on the culture. People, more often than not, can go astray. People are not always tuned to look out for the greater good but for themselves where they can gain the most. In such an environment, it is important that the organizational culture is deeply ingrained into the minds of the employees.

Today, management gurus to CEOs are talking about organizational culture because it is extremely important in the makings of a successful organization. To give a small example, you might want to get the smartest minds on board, and as expected, they would have a set of expectations about the kind of workplace they want to be a part of, this is where having the right and attractive culture in place becomes a huge positive for you.

Benefits of having the right organizational culture:

The company’s culture affects every part of its business and it is usually the foundation for a company in being able to recruit smart minds, to keeping the spirits of its employees high. There are a lot of researches that have found a strong correlation between employees who are happy with their work and those whose company have a strong culture. Here are some of the positive benefits of having an attractive workplace culture.

It improves productivity:

Employees who understand the workplace culture will be able to gauge the expectations of their employers better and work in a manner that will benefit the customers and company alike. People who work in a healthy organizational culture are more prone to put their best foot forward and can be expected to be more committed and productive.

Unites the employees together:

The organizational culture is not usually laid down as a set of rules but it is rather something that is experienced and understood. When they understand the workings (read culture) of the organization through daily interactions with various stakeholders, the culture of the company slowly unravels. If the functioning of the company is in such a way that it is employee-friendly, you will find that the relationship between the employer and the employees improves with each passing day.

Attracts the right talent:

You can be invariably sure that the smartest minds usually have high expectations from their workplace. When you have a highly appreciated organizational culture, you will simultaneously attract smart minds who hear about your company’s name since everyone, including your employees and clients, keep raving about it. Job seekers are usually looking for perks that enhance their experience working at the company.

Here are 15 tips that you can use to create the best organizational culture:

“Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.” – Brian Kristofek, President and CEO, Upshot

Build the right foundation:

Before we even create a set of principles that you want to call as your company culture, it is necessary that you include all stakeholders in a discussion where you talk about the core values of your business and see if everyone is on the same page. If there are objections to a particular ‘dogma’ that you would like to enforce, then talk with the particular person and see why they are objecting to it. Try to reason with them and see if there are valid reasons for their objections and act accordingly.

You need to ask a bunch of fundamental questions to set the ball rolling:

What do you want the company to be known for?

What is the overall value set that you want to represent?

How do you want your employees to look at the company?

This discussion should also include the kind of place you want the workplace to be. Make sure that it is something that inspires your employees and where everyone is treated equally and respectfully.

Create a workplace of mutual trust and respect:

Almost everyone will say a big fat ‘No’ if you were to tell them that you would pay them a million dollars every six months for their work, but their work also entails being humiliated on a regular basis. People value respect above money. Sure, money is attractive because it can get things done and help you buy stuff, but everyone places their self-respect above everything else.

In 2019, creating an atmosphere of respect is going to be one of the most important aspects of building an organizational culture. Since there is a lot of collaboration these days among different departments because of which arises a lot of disagreements, it is important that you create an atmosphere where discussions can get passionate but stay within limits of decency and respect.

Have an inclusive organizational culture:

There was a time when you could get away by passing a racial slur or two or talk ill of someone’s sexual orientation, the scene is not the same anymore. Inclusiveness should be around aspects like gender, race, sexuality, and region and so on. Make sure there is an open method of communication where people are taught to be respectful of other’s differences. The organization needs to be extremely clear about these aspects which are extremely sensitive in nature. When there is communication about this by the organization itself, it doesn’t take much to see people following the same as well.

Have a strong purpose:

It is important that your company have a statement of purpose that you are proud of and not only should it resonate with the management, but they should live it as well. A company that has a clear vision and mission statement will be able to establish clear guidelines to create a highly workable culture. Make sure that the employees are reminded about the values that the business stands for so that it is ingrained deeply into their minds. Ask your employees to open up with the management, if the company’s dealings in any way are not reflective of the standards that it wants to keep.

Welcome new ideas:

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – Simon Sinek, author, Start with Why

Remember that billion-dollar company which has a strict policy of “No ideas” from its employees? Well, you won’t, because there would be no company that becomes successful by being averse to the ideas of its employees.  When you include your employees in discussions where executive decisions are taken, not only would they feel as if they are a part of something bigger and not just an employee who gets a monthly paycheck.

Conduct town-hall meetings with all the employees in the organization, tell them about the plans that you have for the future of the company. Ask for advice from your employees about what they think about these plans and ask them if they have something that can better the plan.  

Being flexible:

Well, it is understandable that there are rules which have been formulated for the smooth functioning of an organization. At the same time, human emotions are to be prioritized a notch above rules, which can be sometimes considered archaic when imposed at the wrong time. Companies that keep their rules flexible have higher chances of attracting employees who will be more than happy to go above and beyond their job requirement. Give your employees the freedom to choose things for themselves as long as it does not impede on the success of the company. When you give them the right amount of freedom, you will find themselves getting more creative and adding more value to the team.

Communicate properly:

Civilizations have thrived for thousands of years by communicating properly to each other and have disintegrated when there were gaps in the same, which is why having a proper mechanism to communicate with each other becomes important. The entire workforce should be clear about the company’s vision, mission, and values. Understanding what the company stands for makes it easy to run the show without any hiccups. Properly communicating the goals, news, successes and future plans make way for a great company.

Live the culture:

“Our secret weapon for building the best culture is open and honest feedback.” – Gina Lau, Team Operations, HelloSign

While defining the organizational culture should be the first step towards creating a culture, it is never going to be implemented unless the management team lives and breathes the culture. If you plan to be a transparent company but refuse to share a lot of details with your employees, then you are not sending the right message. Remember that it takes a lot of time to build a culture, therefore, the little things are going to matter.

The culture is impacted because of so many ways, including, how you handle problems, the way you handle rejections, who you reward and who you fire and the processes that you follow regardless of the success or failure of it.

Learn from the past:

You can learn a lot by how culture impacted your workplace earlier while also listing down the things that worked and which did not. If this is the first-time you are running a company, then you can still learn from your previous employer. List down the things that made you unhappy there and see if you can avoid them here. Can you re-write a previously losing strategy to something that will make people sit up, notice and applaud you?

Invest time in building people:

While all the employees you hire might not be your perfect fit, you can still make a lot of headway by working on them. Give your employees the time to understand how your organization works, your expectations from them, the path that you have designed for them and so on. When your employees know that you care enough to chart a path for them, it becomes clear to them that you have their best interests in mind and the employees would give their best for the betterment of the company.

Hire the right candidates:

While we have explained in the previous point how it is impossible to always be able to hire the right fit, you should still strive to find the best candidates that you can hire. In a small organization, hiring fast just to fill positions is suicide. You need to know that hiring wrong can put a lot of pressure on you and the other employees because no one wants to see their colleagues getting fired. Hiring for skill is not a bad way to go, but if they are extremely wrong fit in terms of culture, then you are in for a disaster.

Have high integrity:

Integrity is all about doing the right thing no matter how counter-productive it might be to your business. Being a business that has high integrity is rare to find these days and your clients will appreciate when you work with the highest standards of integrity. Part of wanting to create a culture of openness is about being honest in all your dealings. No matter how glossy your office looks, if there is no truthfulness and honesty in what you do, sooner or later you will be consumed by it.

Reward valuable contributors:

“If you want employees to feel appreciated, you need to celebrate their achievements regularly and publicly.” – Logan Green, Co-Founder, Lyft

 

Companies that do not reward their best-performing assets have a hard time convincing their employees to stay. There are a lot of employee recognition programs that can be implemented to make them feel more valued. If you are not clear about what to reward, then look for behavior that aligns with the company’s core principles and looks out for employees who have specific behavior towards it. Tell your employees that these are the kind of behaviors that will be recognized and rewarded. See to it that there are attractive rewards for people who work towards achieving this.

Identify your advocates:

Every office has at least one employee who lives and breathes the company, these people can be your biggest strength and they can be huge cheerleaders for your organization. Find people like this in the organization, sit with them and ask them what keeps them motivated to work here, the things they like and dislike about the organization and so on. Talking to them will help you understand the areas that need to be worked on and the areas that need to be left untouched.

Keep measuring the culture:

When you have put up a great culture in place, you must see things change, not drastically always, but a change nevertheless. You can use employee engagement surveys, employee ratings, ratings on review sites and more to see if there is a difference in terms of the outlook that your employees have towards the organization.

See if there is a change in productivity, an increase in engagement during town hall meetings, more employee referrals, higher engagement during meetings and so on. While there is no perfect way to measure what your employees feel towards you, seeing at least a little increase in all of these areas can be the result that you were looking forward to seeing.  

Conclusion:

No CEO wakes up every day saying-“Hey, I am going to work towards making this day a failure”. Everyone wants to succeed and for a business to become successful, it is pivotal that they create a culture of success. We have listed out 15 methods to create an impactful culture which will not only retain the present workforce but attract more eager employees. Remember that employees today not only want the right paycheck and benefits, but there are also a lot more things that keep the morale of the employees high, which is what we have tried to make you understand with this article. If you give your employees an environment where they can thrive and look forward to coming every single day, then you have created a winning atmosphere.  

Mathew Maniyamkott
Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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