22 Sep How to Build a Successful Company Culture
In many ways, the company culture you choose to create is just as important as your business plan. The best company culture can encourage all employees to drive toward success with determination, while the worst cultures can actively turn your most talented workers away.
Whether you’re renovating an existing culture that’s missed the mark or seeking to build a successful company culture from scratch, here are five ways to make sure it’s a successful one.
Define Your Company Values
Your company values statement should be at the heart of your organizational culture and can help define the central mission that all employees are striving to achieve. To be most effective, you need to ensure that your company values statement is a genuinely active component of the workplace. Rather than hanging it in the lobby where it will disappear among the wall art or only bringing it out during boilerplate speeches and year-end memos, your values statement should be a living embodiment of your operational philosophies.
While you can choose to craft a general-purpose values statement that’s meant to stand the test of time, the most motivating statements usually contain a mix of general sentiments and more specific declarations. Never hesitate to update your values statement if it’s out of sync with your company’s development over time.
Communicate Your Cultural Values
Defining your company values is just the first step, even once you’ve molded it into a concrete values statement that’s widely disseminated to all employees. Next, you need to go out of your way to ensure that everybody on the team understands your values. Most importantly, you need to be sure that all employees understand how those values apply to them — both individually and as members of the larger team.
When done correctly, your company values statement will accurately reflect the culture you wish to achieve, so don’t hesitate to draw it on whenever necessary to get your point across. Team members and all employees should be reminded on a regular basis that you believe the culture they work in is important. To maximize engagement and buy-in to those values, it’s always helpful to actively solicit feedback from workers and give them a way to feel genuinely invested and involved in the process.
Understand the Role of Organization Structure
There are two primary types of organizational structure in today’s business world: flat organizational structures (also known as horizontal structures) and vertical organizational structures.
In a flat organizational structure, there are very few employees fulfilling what are commonly known as middle management roles. Instead, the entire workforce exists in a single organizational layer, with the top company leadership directly above.
In contrast to a flat structure, a vertical organizational structure uses multiple tiers of managers, supervisors, and other middlemen, amounting to an organizational ladder with many discrete steps from the bottom of the chart to the top.
Flat organizational structures encourage a democratic, all-inclusive mindset, with the message that no single employee’s voice or opinion is more important than another’s. In contrast, a vertical organizational structure encourages hierarchies and requires messages, thoughts, and ideas to climb up through each individual tier before reaching those at the top of the chart.
While each structure has its pros and cons, you need to ensure that the structure you have in place is a good fit for both your company values and the work you do. The culture you build should reflect that structure and should also seek to smooth over any friction points that might be inherent to it.
For example, a vertical structure is a good fit when your company requires clear accountability and lines of authority, but your culture should still encourage even entry-level employees to feel invested in and important to your mission. Alternately, a flat organizational structure encourages participation and dynamic communication, but you should still ensure your culture makes it clear that each individual’s contributions are valued in their own right and personal contributions are always recognized accordingly.
Hire People Whose Values Align With Your Company
A company culture will never be able to overcome the actual people in the company, so it’s vital you hire employees who are a good long-term fit to begin with. Work actively with your recruiting and human resources staff to develop screening processes that identify good prospects right away, and always ensure that your interview and hiring procedures put an emphasis on discovering how likely an applicant is to fit with your existing culture.
Evolve Your Company Culture
Just as your company values statement should be a living, breathing document, your company culture itself needs to evolve and stay current with the realities of your business. In an ideal world, your culture will evolve incrementally with every new hire and always remain open to finding new and better ways to express the philosophies and goals that are most important to your success.
By drafting a company values statement that accurately reflects your aspirations and beliefs and then working to actively communicate those values to both existing employees and all new hires, you can ensure that you’ve built a culture that encourages and supports success.