5 ways leaders can cultivate a strong company culture
A strong culture is the foundation of every successful organisation and one of the most powerful sources of competitive advantage, as no other organisation can fully replicate it.
A company culture sends a very strong message about what the organisation stands for, both internally and externally. Culture is not static and it’s not a product of a mission statement or set values. It is also not something you can quickly gain or lose, and it cannot be measured. It evolves continuously based on the unique organisation and its people - and leadership teams play a critical role in building and maintaining a strong foundation of this intangible, yet invaluable organisational asset:
1. Define the key elements
Rather than relying on a “culture of default,” it is important to identify the key pillars of your culture. Define what it stands for, how it should look and feel, and how the leadership team will act on these values. When expectations are clear and can be applied consistently to every employee, you create a positive and open environment in which people want to work, do their best work, and work with each other well.
2. Model behaviours
The culture of an organisation is most actively cultivated by the leader. The lessons leadership behavior teaches employees will override everything else and have a major impact on the culture. Team members look to their leadership team for guidance and determine what’s acceptable, encouraged and even celebrated within the organisation. Conversely, an ineffective culture can have the opposite effect.
3. Spot check company’s culture
A company's culture is embedded in the daily actions and interactions of its employees. Leaders can spot check the company's progress by actively and regularly checking in with employees and asking how they would describe the organisation's culture to a potential employee. Passively, leaders can look for company values in how employees interact with customers, co-workers, and company infrastructure. Leaders should also listen to employee feedback to get an idea of how company culture is being received, as employee retention is higher if there is a strong culture that they believe in.
4. Start with onboarding
The onboarding process is an essential part of integration into the organisation. It teaches newcomers the employer's value system, norms, and desired organisational behaviors. It also helps newcomers become part of social networks in the organisation and provides them with early job experiences that reinforce the culture.
The onboarding process sets the tone for how new employees will be treated and it should make them feel welcomed, valued, and supported. This will help them to be successful in their new roles from the start and contribute to the company's success.
5. Manage performance
Performance management plays a critical role in shaping corporate culture by outlining employee expectations and providing feedback. Performance reviews are a great opportunity for leaders and employees to pause and reflect on their journey so far and assess where they are going, as well as create a strong connection. They are not just about communicating metrics and correcting problems, but more importantly about engaging in developmental conversations, and ensuring employees are enabled to be successful.
Culture is the most powerful tool an organisation can use to drive results. It helps a team align on their purpose and its impact on customers, partners, and employees. An effective culture fosters innovation, creativity, and adaptability that enables your business to thrive in any environment. At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering training and development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops, and coaching programs, ranging from communication skills to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programs for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programs please contact Simon at email@example.com.