Published on April 12th, 2018 | by Nancy F. Clark0
How To Make Your Company Culture Remarkable
By Maria Gamb—
The general attitude of the leader and everyday engagement with the team is critical to creating a healthy workplace environment. A healthy workplace would be where each person is appreciated for their contributions, criticism and coaching are constructive and employees feel like they’re part of a process. Happy employees are 12 percent more productive than their average counterparts, while unhappy employees are 10 percent less productive according to this recent study.
As management consultant Peter Drucker said, “Organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Establishing the boundaries and operational elements of a strong company culture creates a foundation from which everything flows. Those expectations are set through a values-based leadership approach, where the guidelines or rules of engagement are set out making use of core values; such as fairness, treating others with dignity and respect or being innovative. These are a few examples. Core values reflect the attitude of the leader and their mindset which permeates the organization.
Regardless of which are selected, communication becomes the most important tool to deploy. Communication reinforces values and a positive, healthy workplace.
Here are five tips to help create a more remarkable and productive environment.
1 Communicate goals and expectations – Be consistent in what you’re communicating. Avoid contradiction or a moving goal post when talking to one group of employees and then to another. This is where lines get crossed and communication crumbles.
2 Detail how to get there – Establishing a cogent plan and direction is the best way to make sure everyone is moving in the same direction. New employees will need more instruction initially until they become acclimated to the company culture and their particular job. More veteran employees may need less specifics. So customize your approach based on the group. However, leaving people in a void to just “figure it out” will only cause frustration when what you’ve asked them to do isn’t executed as you intended. You need to clearly communicate it to them.
3 Support employees with an attitude of teamwork – Foster an environment where everyone is in it together. Each hand works in conjunction with the other, like an Olympic relay race. Remind them often that together they can accomplish more, but divided or working in silos, is like missing a hand-off in that relay race. It’s neither time efficient or productive.
4 Mistakes and missteps are common – It’s important to remember that the team is comprised of people who may, at times, loose their focus, make a mistake, step over a line or completely miss something. Offer constructive criticism and guidance. Find the lesson in the mistake: which could be as simple as “I won’t make that mistake again” or “I need to approach this issue differently.” Aggressive behavior by the leader will either shut people down or ignite an even more confrontational exchange. Of course, that’s not recommended.
5 Lead from the front – It’s every leader’s responsibility to lead from the front, which means to lead by example. They are to embody the values and attitudes they’ve set forth for the organization. Everyone has a bad day every now and then—or felt a little off their game. There isn’t one professional I know who hasn’t done something that could be classified as stupid. This is the imperfection of being human. But if you’re 95% consistent, the rest is forgivable.
When the applications prescribed are administered with an attitude of patience and encouragement, productivity increases. The idea is to create a level playing field. When communication is clear, concise and consistent the team will flourish. Errors become learning opportunities and this empowers people. Employees will take ownership of their jobs—which is exactly what you want! They are invested in their work and will give more time and energy to the process. It is a very clear, predictable, domino effect with remarkable results. This is the attitude, and the belief system, of the leader being projected onto the team. As the leader leads from the front, by setting the example through their own engagement and behavior others will follow.
I’m going to be pretty blunt here. If the leader is a jerk, erratic or a yeller, you can pretty much bet that the employees around him will not be willing to go the extra mile for that leader. They will seek to do their jobs and flee back home at night as quickly as possible. This represents the antithesis of a healthy, productive and happy company culture.
No matter what, the leader is responsible for the environment that is created in any given circumstance. If drama, conflict or tension is part of your company culture you need to look no further than the leadership—which may be you. Self-reflection is an important practice. Ask yourself how you’re contributing to a negative environment, reset your approach and follow the points above to course correct.
By the way, we all need to refine our approach at times. There’s no shame in this process. Most great leaders seek to consistently improve themselves.