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Culture is defined in many ways: it’s the stories we tell about ourselves, it’s the way we treat each other and customers, and it’s often described as “the way we do things around here.” One of the core differences between bad/mediocre cultures and really good ones is the attention that gets paid to culture.
If you’ve ever heard of the advice, “what gets talked about gets done,” then you already have a significant tip on how to improve the culture your company: make it a topic of conversation. Make it an agenda item at meetings.
Spend sufficient time creating clarity around the vision, mission, and values of your organization, for these form the foundation of a good culture. Then identify some of the core behaviors that you want people to engage in, for how people behave is a reflection of what the culture represents.
The truth is that your organization has a culture whether you pay attention to it or not. Great companies (both large and small) create cultures with intention. They use the values of the organization as a filter for making decisions and assessing their performance. For example, if your company claims to be Customer-Centric, then ask of any decision “how will this affect our clients?” Or if you want a People First culture, then pay a lot of attention to your policies and processes, the kind of flexibility and decision-making authority you offer people, and the quality of your work space, both the physical environment as well as the emotional space.
If you are unsure what’s happening in your organization, you might consider doing a Culture Audit. This is an exercise you can do using an outside resource for objectivity or an internal resource for familiarity. A Culture Audit can be complex or as simple as sitting down with each person in the company to ask them a series of discovery questions about what they believe the culture to be, what they really like about working there, and what they would change to make it a better place to work.
Asking for ideas does not require that you actually make all the changes suggested, but notice that simply asking already opens up a different kind of conversation, and can provide you with a lot of input about what’s working and what you need to improve.
So how do you improve the culture at a company? Ask questions, pay attention, and talk about it.
Read more articles like this one in: In the workplace, Leadership