Why organisations need a strong culture…
It goes without saying: any business can progress further forward if every member of staff is pushing in the right direction. Hiring the right people for your organisation, who understand what the company is trying to do, should now be second nature for anyone whose job it is to recruit, but what does that actually mean? What are the benefits of a strong culture, and how should one be maintained?
Mind-set vs. bureaucracy
Red tape and long paper trails do little towards the efficiency of a business. Rather than expecting your staff to consult guidelines, policies, checklists and instructions, think about the time saved if staff just ‘know’ what’s expected of them and the specific part they play in the company’s vision. Giving them the right mental tools upon starting their role, and getting them to fully understand the goals of the company, their individual boundaries and the desirable aspects you’d like them to display, is far more preferable than just bunging them with an induction folder ten inches thick and expecting them to just ‘get it’.
Ensure relevant lines of communication are open and inherent from the off – explain how mutual respect is enforced within the organisation. Adopt a ‘lead by example’ mentality from the very top of the organisation downwards, rather than ‘the blind leading the blind’. Knowing their company’s core values and learning through demonstration as to how things are done will help any member of staff get on board with a company’s individual culture.
A strong culture, of course, is not only beneficial and helpful to staff, it also helps shape the company’s brand for the consumer. Every point of contact, from the marketing material to digital media, to staff uniform and public areas – the stronger the brand, the more recognisable it will be. If the culture is not strong the brand will, in turn, appear disjointed – the best companies are those that deliver a fantastic, unified experience whatever branch or outlet consumers visit. The strongest cultures run from the top to the bottom evenly and seamlessly.
It’s preferable, the more successful a company becomes, that it reinvests in its workforce. If a business is benefitting from a strong culture but decides not to develop or reward its staff for the part they’ve played, dissention can soon occur. If an employee feels valued – and I’ve shown in previous posts that this doesn’t always mean financially – they’re inspired to do even better. Failing to reinvest in the workforce can result in a ‘them and us’ mentality that can instantly dissolve a previously united front.
People want to feel they’ve been part of a success; they want to matter. If they feel good about the company, this will emanate towards customers and the public in general, further reinforcing the company’s culture and brand alike.
To make sure boundaries are kept and problems are nipped in the bud, it’s important that the culture is helped kept intact by strong leaders within the organisation. That’s not to say they should be dictatorial, as such a stifled approach would stunt employees from caring about the organisation’s goals, visions, customers, or the roles they personally fill. Strong leaders support, guide and empower a workforce, encouraging it to align with the culture, not crushing it because the organisation is ruled with an iron fist.
Reflecting the day-to-day process and nature of the business
It’s important that the culture reflects business practice and is appropriate for the industry. For instance, if an organisation was made up of lawyers and barristers, its culture would need to be more formal and reserved than that of a computer game design company. The former couldn’t turn up to court in jeans and trainers, however forward thinking or flexible the company may wish to be. The values held by any organisation need to be appropriate but can prove to be just as supportive; for example, though said lawyers may not get as relaxed a working environment as the games designers, they can be rewarded and developed in other ways, such as via the financing of employees’ law studies or giving them perks they can enjoy in their downtime. A strong culture will probably differ from organisation to organisation and from industry to industry, but it doesn’t have to be any less powerful.
Does your organisation have a weak culture? Is this an area within your company that could be improved? For more information on how I can help in this regard, contact me on 01302 220021 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org