Published on 05/27/2016
While you know your business is important, you might not realize just how important your company culture is.
You pay your employees, right? They should be happy to have a job and leave it at that.
Is that your thinking?
I hope not.
I keep reading about how companies don’t value company culture enough. Truthfully, I don’t know how true these statements are. However, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that even if it is true for many companies, it isn’t true for you.
Because studies show that there is actually a correlation between your company culture and the success of your business.
What Is Company Culture?
Wait, wait. Before I get to that, maybe I should take a step back and explain just what I mean by your company culture.
Investopedia defines company culture or corporate culture as “the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.”
For example, any of the following are part of your company culture even if you don’t actually sit down and define it:
- The time people show up in the morning and leave at night
- The style of dress that they wear
- The benefits you offer
- Activities you do as a group
- Your hiring and firing practices
- The way you set up your office
- How you treat clients
- What clients think of you
- What your employees think of you
This is just a small sampling, too.
For example, the company culture here at AchieveIt is pretty relaxed.
- We have a ping pong table.
- There is a monthly happy hour (with awards for team members who best represent the company values as voted on by all their peers – thus demonstrating the fact that these traits are appreciated).
- In the break room, there are always snacks and drinks.
- You won’t see many people wearing suits around here.
But don’t let this relaxed atmosphere make you think we don’t work as hard as we play.
As a general rule, I like to get to work early. So I show up around 7:30-7:45 so I can get some quiet work time in before the crowds arrive.
If you think I am the first person here, then you are incorrect. If you think I have a good hour and a half of peace in, you are similarly misinformed. I am pretty sure the people that actually show up close to nine are the late ones. Unless you have a valid excuse, you probably don’t arrive after 9 – and I mean not even 9:01.
I have never worked at a place where this is true, but it is here. Nor do people leave early. I don’t know when the last people head home, but I do know most people are still hard at it when I go home – and I don’t consider myself a slacker, so that is pretty impressive in my book.
I am not just telling you this to ramble. Each and everything I just said about AchieveIt is part of its company culture.
Now, if you were to describe your company culture, what would you say?
The Interplay Between Culture and Success
So now that we have a firm understanding of what company culture is, let us go back to my earlier, perhaps surprising statement:
Studies show that there is a correlation between your culture and the success of your business.
In this case, I am specifically going to reference a 2013 survey conducted by Strategy + Business.
This survey, conducted with over 2,200 business professionals from all over the globe, found that many business people value a company culture over that company’s strategy or other business initiatives.
Not only that, but they also found that most of those surveyed don’t think that their leadership team put enough emphasis on the importance of the company culture. In fact, only 53% say that there is an importance on this topic and only 35% say that management is doing a good job with this area.
There are a lot of reasons that your company culture contributes to your business success.
- Culture is what draws potential employees to you and what keeps them there once they are hired. So if you want to attract and keep the best in the business, then offering a culture worth being part of helps.
- Current and potential clients see – and are part of – your culture. It effects whether they want to work with you.
- Not only that, but it effects how your employees deal with your clients.
- Not only that, but it effects how your employees work in general.
- Not only that, but… alright, I think you get the point. Your company culture does a lot to lead you towards the places you want to be.
Ways to Improve Your Company Culture
There are a lot of crazy benefits companies – especially startup companies –are offering these days.
- Bring your dog to work.
- Unlimited vacation days.
- Napping pods.
Just to name a few.
You might think that you can’t offer these. That’s okay. That doesn’t mean you can’t place some importance on your company culture. For starters, I have listed four ways you can easily start improving your company culture.
Make Your Strategies and Goals Transparent
I am not going to get very political very often, but in this situation, Hillary Clinton is the perfect analogy. Regardless of how you feel about her, you have to admit that she has some problems with trust. In large part, that is because she likes her privacy all while choosing to work in a very public job, which often does not mix.
Well, in your company, you are the Hillary. So, you have two choices. You and your leadership team can sit in your big offices, making decisions and telling your employees to trust you because you are doing what is best for them and the company. Or, you can let them in on the decision making process.
- Value their insights.
- Communicate with them about what is happening and why it is happening.
- Don’t leave them in a state of constant worry about what is going to happen to them tomorrow.
Basically, the more you keep open forms of communication and visibility, the more your employees will trust that you know what you are doing and are truly looking out for them and your clients.
Let Employee’s See Why They Are So Valuable
People like to feel needed and important. It’s just a fact of life. So if I come in and grind out a bunch of tasks every day, but I don’t understand how I am helping anything, I will likely get understandably frustrated.
“Why am I going there every day just to waste everybody’s time?”
Don’t let your employees feel that way.
Along with making your visions, strategies and goals transparent to the whole organization, make it clear how each job functions to help achieve those plans.
Let’s say your company goal this year is to grow your client base for a new product from 500 to 1000.
It is likely easy for your sales team to fit in to that plan. Every new client they bring in puts you another step closer to achieving your goal. However, what about those other departments?
As a marketer, I want to know that the content I am creating or the social media posts I am adding are bringing people to the site and eventually bringing in some conversions and name recognition so that when sales calls them up, they have an idea of who we are.
As a developer, the engineers here want to know that the improvements to the product they are making is what is nailing down and impressing companies in demos.
Everybody feels that way.
So, if you want to easily improve your company culture, then don’t just assign tasks to people. Let them see how those tasks are contributing to the ultimate goals of the company.
Sometimes, the president goes through town and traffic is backed up for hours. Sometimes an emu runs into the middle of the road and traffic is backed up for hours. Sometimes, though it feels like rarely, workers have other things going on in their life that don’t have anything to do with traffic.
Whatever the reason, though, it is true that life happens. So if you want to easily create a company culture that makes people want to work hard for you, be understanding of this truth and make yourself flexible.
Can an employee work from home? (Notice I said can and not may) Then, at least occasionally, let them. Some organizations have trouble with this because how can you manage workers when you can’t see them and, thus, how will they be held accountable?
Well, if that is your worry, then tune in next month when I am going to do a whole series on remote and international workers. In the meantime, though, just know that your employees are adults, and if you treat adults like adults they will act like adults – which means doing their jobs.
Recognize and Honor Achievements
What would you do if every one of your workers upped and quit right this second?
I hope you realize you’d be pretty lost. First, how would anything get done? Second, when you are interviewing new people, how could you possibly explain having an environment that made everyone want to get out as fast as possible?
Your business survives based off of each and every one of the people who work for you – from the person who keeps the place clean and hygienic to the CEO who is leading you. This means you should be placing value on all of your workers – not just those at the top.
- This can be as simple as saying thank you when a job is done well.
- It might mean having an annual banquet or party honoring everyone’s accomplishments.
- It could be sending out a team email bragging about how so and so brought on that new, huge client.
You don’t have to spend millions to improve your culture. You can simply start by showing some appreciation.
Reap the Rewards in Your Business
I challenge you to add ‘improve company culture’ to your strategic initiatives this year – then take some of my tips in order to achieve this goal.
Of course, because in the end, we want to help you achieve all of your goals, I can give you one more piece of advice:
AchieveIt helps you track the success of your initiatives, including this one. However, it also helps you do all of the easy culture improvements listed in this post.
Culture starts from the top and works its way down. That is what AchieveIt helps you do.
- It makes transparency, visibility and communication simple.
- It helps employees see just where there assignments fit into the bigger picture in a glance.
- It helps you hold workers accountable even when they are being given the flexibility to work from home.
- It also lets you easily see what everyone has accomplished – which makes it a lot easier to know when to thank them and for what.
Of course, that is not all it does. To learn more, take a look around the AchieveIt Execution Management Platform.