4 Ways to Nurture your Company Culture in 2016
You may have seen my recent blog post, Keeping it Cloudy: How to Build Company Culture on the topic of building company culture. I'll expand here with some follow-up actions that you, as a business leader, could use to make some practical changes this year.
#1. Involve your employees in parts of your high level strategy and planning.
This doesn't mean you have to give away confidential information or involve everyone in every decision (that could be hugely inefficient!), but do share successes and failures, and identify places where employee voices could add to the discussions you're having at the top level.
Sharing your company's progress over the past few months and outlining key goals for the next quarter is a great way to make people feel unified and engaged. This is especially effective at keeping communication channels open in companies larger than around 50 people, where employees can easily become distanced from key decision makers. Make sure you're all pulling together, not in different directions!
#2. Review your L&D Capabilities.
Do you offer any formal training, training discounts or resources to staff to help them develop? How is staff performance tracked? Is promoting/tracking L&D a feature in employees' 1-1s with their managers?
Consider making this a key question you ask all your employees:
"Aside from helping achieve the goals of the company, what do you personally want to achieve for yourself and your own growth in 2016?".
Follow up with "How can we help you achieve that?".
Employees (particularly the most talented) are becoming increasingly strategic about their career goals and evaluating their progress. Among graduates in particular, there is a sense that they expect a return beyond salary for their investment of time and effort in your company. With that trend in mind, it's worth you being the one to voice that they're allowed to be a little selfish when it comes to their growth.
#3. Ask yourself how well feedback works in your company.
Though many companies promote the idea that employees can voice their opinion at any time, too often it is difficult to do so without being worried you will endanger your position or your chances of promotion. Whilst it's a nice idea to say that your culture is open and everyone should be able to add to the conversation openly, in practice it sometimes just doesn't work. Sometimes a large difference in seniority, or hesitation about how an issue will be dealt with, can stop people voicing concerns or grievances. The answer shouldn't be to stifle those voices – you risk resentment growing and the voices becoming privately louder.
Instead it may be worth examining what your system is for lodging complaints or suggesting feedback. One thing that can work well is an anonymous online suggestion box like this one which can be monitored by management or HR. Since we value transparency, we have a number of localised Glassdoor pages where we actively encourage people who interview or work for us to leave anonymous reviews. This is both informative, and makes us publicly accountable for our performance.
Ideally, you're aiming to develop a culture where giving feedback becomes natural: I'll be following up soon with a blog post on how to create a 'Culture of Feedback' so keep an eye out!
#4. Consider your Company Mission Statement and Purpose.
If you don't have them, create them! A company mission statement is externally facing, and will help customers identify with your brand, but it also helps your employees to clearly identify and align with your ultimate business goals. It will give a sense of what you are all looking to achieve together, as a team.
A 'Purpose' (as defined in the book Scaling Up), is for your employees only, and is more about the daily motivations, beliefs and behaviours that make your company 'tick'. Defining this will help to unite your team and enable them to work more cohesively.