Think about workplace culture as the human operating system in your business. How people who work in your company (including you) behave creates the workplace culture. Culture is how people experience your company.
As the owner and leader of your business, you personally have the biggest influence on your company’s culture. Culture is also driven by how your team has bought into your vision, values and company promise.
Values are what you consider to be most important, meaningful and appropriate. A company’s values are the building blocks of workplace culture. They underpin the way an organization behaves and inform decisions in the areas of operations, finance, team building, leadership and how the company shows up in the market.
For example, Gary Ware told a great story about values. Here’s my understanding of his experience.
Gary worked at a start-up company. The company wrote their values on the wall, one of which was fun. Gary said that although he didn’t love his job, the fact that the company valued fun made it a great place to work. Then the company got bigger. Management felt they needed to change the way they did things to play with the “big fish”. They decided to replace the word fun with the word excellence.
Gary couldn’t believe how quickly the workplace culture shifted. Instead of enjoying the process and bonding with co-workers over challenging assignments, the workplace culture became competitive. People worked overtime and strived for un-reachable perfection.
Leadership changed one value and the whole workplace culture shifted!
2. Leadership style
Our own values drive our actions. Our employees witness our actions which directly influences their actions and reactions. As the leader of your organization, what you give the most attention to has the greatest impact on culture. Company culture then is not “out there” but in fact “in here”. It’s how we think, what we give priority to, how we use our emotions, and the systems and structures we give the highest priority to. Just like in the example above, it was leadership who changed their focus from fun to excellence and shifted the entire company culture.
How would you describe your leadership style? How do you make decisions? In what ways does your mood impact your leadership? Your temperament, your hopes and fears—as well as how well you are organized, focused and disciplined— all play a significant role in company culture.
A company promise describes the value or experience customers can expect to receive every time they interact with your business. Everyone on your team understands and commits to this promise.
When you focus your team’s attention on your company promise, you then have a leadership tool that helps positively shape the workplace culture. It brings people together with a shared understanding of purpose.
The reason why you started this company and where you see your company going has a direct impact on workplace culture. If you envision a company that provides small batch, locally-sourced quality goods, you will have a different company culture than an online company looking to break into the global market.
What vision do you have for your company?
Your vision, when written down and repeated over and over, is a foundational tool to inspire, motivate and lead others. Imagine everyone working together towards a shared vision. There is elevated camaraderie in teams that share the same sense of purpose. This results in greater productivity, pride and better outcomes for your customers.
What’s your workplace culture like?
What’s your favourite part of your company culture? In what ways do you want to grow? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Until next time, enjoy your Entrepreneurial Journey!