“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” ~ Peter Drucker
Culture – a word that gets used again and again. But what is culture? Culture is defined as how people within an organization interact with each other as well as work with each other.
Why is culture important? The companies with the best cultures hire the best people, keep the best people, have higher revenue and consistently demonstrate innovation. So how can you improve your company’s culture?
Define Values & Purpose
One of the most important (and first) steps a company needs to take to improve culture is to define values and purpose. Companies must be crystal clear on the “why” behind what they do.
Live and back your purpose
Once you have defined your purpose, it’s important that leadership and every member of the organization live that purpose. Culture isn’t about a mission statement on a piece of paper hanging on a wall somewhere. Culture should be felt in every part of the business.
Ability to pivot
Companies that have great cultures have the ability to quickly pivot when necessary. While values and purpose remain constant, what and how the company does things should be fluid.
Hire & retain the right people
If you want to create and maintain a great culture, you have to focus on your people. You need to not only hire the right people but keep the right people. That can be difficult with the fight for the best talent. As you develop your company’s culture and follow these other ‘rules’, you will be able to keep the right people.
When you do a great job of hiring and keeping the right people, it’s easier to empower these people. Nordstrom is well known for its customer service that is driven by empowerment of all levels of people. Nordstrom gives its employees authority and responsibility to make the right decision for customers and the company. Their employee handbook famously reads,
“Our One Rule: Use good judgment in all situations. Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or Human Resources any questions at any time.”
Empowerment is about trusting your staff to make the right decisions and backing them.
Transparency is honesty in doing business. But it’s more than just that. It’s about the lack of hidden agendas, full availability to information for collaboration, and open exchange.
Transparency is essential for strong and loyal company culture.
Accountability is not just for the staff. Leadership has to be held accountable by their staff. When accountability goes up and down and laterally, a stronger culture of ‘we’re all in it’ exists.
Culture can be taken down by the wrong incentives. Make sure you review what your incentives are encouraging (not just directly but indirectly as well).
What’s the point of great culture if you’re not having fun? All companies with strong cultures have a mix of hard work and fun. Make it a point to having fun at your workplace.
Not only do you have to do all the things above, but you have to do them consistently. Having a fun event, or being transparent for a little while won’t go very far in establishing the culture.