Culture Club - The New Competitive Advantage
Many people think of business culture as an HR talking point, providing little to no real value to their organization. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A strong corporate culture empowers employees to reach new heights by increasing their personal investment in the company and unlocking their passion for creative problem-solving. A well-developed culture of freedom and personal responsibility inspires innovative thinking and collaboration, providing organizations with a competitive advantage over more traditionally managed companies.
What Is Culture?
Culture is a delicate balance of attitudes, values, and policies which are introduced by management and kept alive through day-to-day interactions and operations. Lacking proper care and dedicated support, cultures can easily develop into toxic, oppressive environments that stymie individuality and creativity. When executed properly, the separate pieces of the culture puzzle combine to create an atmosphere that emphasizes communication, collaboration, and innovation.
Culture also shapes the identity and power of your brand. A strong and healthy culture turns employees into brand ambassadors, feeling a personal responsibility for the health of the company and pride in the part they play within it. Culture provides a vehicle for creating long-term, sustainable progress which elevates the company above its competitors and ensures the ability to retain that lead. Ignoring the potential of a well-developed and nurtured culture is like fighting with your hands tied behind your back.
The Benefits of Culture
Time invested in developing a healthy culture pays off in real and immediate ways. A vibrant culture offers significant benefits to companies that can harness their power such as:
Morale: Enhances employee job satisfaction and makes recruiting talent much easier by providing employees an environment in which they can thrive.
Synergy: Team members forge deeper connections with one another, empowering communication and teamwork throughout the organization.
Commitment: Using culture to create and communicate organizational goals gives employees insight into the role they can play to help tackle those goals. This feeling of being a valuable contributor to the success of the company enhances employee personal investment in the organization’s future.
Energy: A thriving culture will encourage positive interactions that energize team members, making them excited to go to work every morning, giving your brand its own energy and life.
Have you paid any attention to the culture being created within your business every day? As a workplace investigator, Natalie Lynch of the Lynch Law Firm in Austin, Texas reported that the issue at the core of many of her workplace investigations is an unhealthy culture. Take time to observe the interactions that happen around you, analyzing whether they exhibit the kinds of values you want to engender within your organization. A healthy culture never happens on accident but toxic ones do. Unhealthy cultures can easily lead to disruptive workplace behavior and hostile work environments that could lead to lawsuits from disgruntled employees.
Lead the charge when it comes to developing your company’s culture. If you aren’t playing an active role in the evolution of culture within your organization, you’re missing out on untapped potential. While culture is a complex, living being that is impacted by many nuanced factors, there are some primary building blocks which can help in your efforts to create and tend to a vibrant culture.
The Keys for Building a Strong Culture Are:
Emphasizing transparency and presence.
Fostering the growth of a positive culture requires organization-wide transparency that shows employees they are worth the time it takes to keep everyone informed. Furthermore, making a point of engaging with employees of all levels and being available and present on a daily basis will increase management relationships with employees. This will also provide invaluable insight into a team member’s strengths, weaknesses, and priorities.
Going beyond policies and best practices.
Creating a document outlining the organization’s beliefs, values, policies, and expectations is a great start, but only that. Lead by example and practice what you preach. Demonstrate that you truly believe in the values laid out before employees and drive home the importance of upholding them on a daily basis. Consider how organizational leaders can effectively recognize employees who similarly demonstrate the values that reinforce your culture.
Acknowledging victories and establishing accountability.
Create clear roles and provide every team member with specific responsibilities so they can own a piece of the work being performed. Enforce this feeling of accountability by publicly acknowledging successes and calling out organizational failures. Be ready to admit your own mistakes and encourage others to take pride in their roles and responsibility for their actions.
Creating a strong, healthy culture within your organization can drastically increase productivity across every department while also aiding your company in avoiding the ugly ramifications of an unhealthy culture. Those ramifications cost real dollars but they are experienced as interpersonal conflicts, sabotage, process and performance failures, and toxic environments.