Workplace culture captures who a company is and what it stands for in the world. Much has been written about the benefit of bringing company culture into the work environment. Yet, less attention is paid to developing a consistent perspective of culture. Creating company culture consensus is like growing a bountiful garden; it needs regular tending.
There are many challenges in creating company culture. A big one is the lack of a single, shared view of organizational culture. Yes, everyone working at the company believes there is a company culture. But if asked to define the culture, it’s likely that each employee might have a very different view. That disconnect can undermine the effectiveness of the workplace culture efforts.
Company culture can encourage engagement and retention, improve productivity, support innovation, and ultimately drive revenue. But it can only do that if it is working to get everyone pulling in the same direction, with the same intent, and demonstrating the same values.
Corporate culture confusion can be resolved. Here are several suggestions to support the development and fostering of cultural consensus.
Strategies for Creating Company Culture Consensus
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to building The Perfect Company Culture, a few key strategies can help to get the conversation moving in the right direction.
Recognize who is setting culture.
In a Workforce Institute survey, “a significant number of employees” didn’t know who is “responsible for determining culture at their organization.” While one-third of HR staff believe its their role, only 10 percent of other staffers agreed. Some 25 percent of company execs claimed cultural responsibility, but only 11 percent of HR staff and 9 percent of remaining employees agreed.
We would argue that everyone sets culture. But it is important to have a clear idea of who is responsible for creating culture, conveying it, and sustaining it.
Find your baseline.
Anyone in charge of culture change at an organization needs to first get to know where things stand. Do people in all departments believe there is a company culture? If yes, that’s a great starting point. But, how do they describe that culture? Does it gel with what the leadership envisions for the company culture? You can’t know without asking employees. You might:
- Create a survey with specific questions about company culture and work environment attributes such as trust, team accountability, or interpersonal respect.
- Invite people to participate in a focus group or workshop sharing their input.
- Add an email address where people can share feedback.
- Set up a Slack or Teams channel where you ask people to share examples of their colleagues acting in ways that exemplify company culture.
Everyone likes a little positive reinforcement. So, reward employees for living up to or effectively espousing company culture. This might be a shout out to peers at the morning scrum or offering a small bonus. You could give someone a floating holiday for the new year as recognition for really championing the company culture throughout the year.
Showing appreciation around company culture has many advantages:
- Demonstrates how much the company values its culture
- Lets employees feel noticed and respected
- Provides ongoing examples of company culture messaging
This approach is particularly advantageous in work environments that are spread out geographically or relying heavily on virtual work.
Be ready to grow.
You can’t expect company culture to be a set-and-sit element of your work environment. As your business expands, your employees develop, and your company matures, company culture will shift. It could codify even further in the direction you want. Or you could lose sight of it going in a direction you didn’t anticipate.
Understanding that every individual contributes to the culture in your workplace, you have to expect it to change. Appoint someone, or a committee of people from different areas of the business, to be the keepers of culture. They will be the ones who help manage the change, continually communicate culture, and nurture its best elements.
The most important thing to realize is that culture is not a one-way, top-down effort. It can’t just be handed down from on high with everyone falling in step. Listening to your employees and making sure they feel heard will make people more motivated to live up to your company culture goals. Plus, you’ll be better able to identify when the culture is shifting, or discover when one area has its own interpretation, and be able to stem or encourage that change accordingly.
Company Culture Provides Meaning
While there may not be consensus around what company culture is, its importance is widely acknowledged. According to Deloitte’s research, 94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success.
With a strong, positive corporate culture, your employees are more likely to perform their best. Keep investing in creating a company culture consensus and your business will reap rewards.
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