Senior leadership often considers company culture to be an unspoken code, but it shouldn’t be. Instead, culture should be clearly articulated and constantly reinforced. Culture should explain how things get done in your organization and come with a matching set of values and behaviors. Without a defined company culture, your organization may encounter obstacles and setbacks that could have easily been avoided.
The potentially negative consequences of an undefined culture:
No organization is devoid of culture. This means you can either choose to define it or leave it up to chance. When company culture is not defined by senior leadership, managers and employees will inevitably shape the culture themselves.
If your employees’ vision does not align with your own, their actions could steer the culture in an unexpected direction. Culture can easily become divided across teams, creating a work environment that is inconsistent and disengaging. Ultimately, an uncertain culture creates a breakdown in communication, with your mission and strategic aims lost in translation.
How to define your company culture:
Firstly, take a good look around.
Do your employees know how their position supports your organization’s purpose? Even if you do, your employees might not. According to Gallup, only 40 percent of U.S. employees strongly agree that their company’s mission makes their own job feel important. The other 60 percent of employees feel disconnected from the company’s purpose and their workplace culture.
Evaluating the state of your company culture is a critical first step. What are your organization’s core values? How should those values be manifested in daily work life? And will customers recognize your values while interacting with employees? Answering these questions honestly should pinpoint where there is room for improvement.
Next, define your culture inclusively.
Defining company culture does not mean silencing different opinions or ways of doing things. Rather, a well-articulated culture should be defined by the results it seeks to generate. These results can include everything from employee experience to customer experience, to big-picture goals.
By defining culture based on the desired outcomes, you enable and empower employees to find meaningful applications for their unique skills. Always evaluate current employees and new hires based on what they will add to the culture, not how well they already fit. When company culture is clearly defined, it becomes easier to see the value in what makes each employee different and how those differences will grow your organization.
Finally, be specific about how culture should influence daily work.
Values should not be abstract concepts. Your company values should be specific enough to inform how your employees approach their daily workload. A well-defined culture is a blueprint that shows employees how to embody your organization’s values.
To create your culture blueprint, pay attention to how high-performing employees respond in different scenarios. Ask them about their thought process while problem-solving and listen carefully to what they say. Having these conversations allows you to develop a practical understanding of how company values can take shape behaviorally.
All in all, your company culture should be designed to increase employee engagement, inclusivity, and overall productivity. Communicating values clearly and consistently is the best way to calibrate your organization for sustainable growth.