In a previous post, I likened culture to the wind by explaining you can’t see culture, but you can see the effects of it if you know what to look for and where to look.
Do you understand the factors that affect the culture of your organization?
It’s important that you do, as studies suggest a correlation between financial results and a strong, inspiring organizational culture.
If you do not thoroughly understand your organization’s culture, your organization is probably underperforming, and you’re almost certainly missing opportunities to improve results.
You might be amazed to learn all the things in your business that affect/reflect its culture.
Every leader can better understand their culture by observing five main areas in their organization.
People, People, People!
I have always said that the three keys to my companies’ successes were: People, People, People! Culture starts with people.
- Your hiring process: Where do you look for new team members? How do you evaluate candidates? Do you consider whether their traits, beliefs, and core values align with your organization?
- How you onboard new hires: What kind of training and orientation do they receive? How do you introduce them to your organization and the principles that you hold dear? What steps do you take to ensure that they smoothly and quickly integrate with your team?
- How you treat your people: Are they treated like assets or just “the cost of doing business”? What programs do you have in place to serve your people and reinforce your core values?
Culture starts at the top! You and other leaders’ behaviors have a dramatic impact on your organization’s culture.
We can look to the bible for even more encouragement and instruction about how important our actions are. In the book of Matthew, it says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 ESV
As a leader, you have a great opportunity to influence and shape the culture of your organization.
You shape culture through:
- What you communicate: Do you champion your organization’s core values, purpose, vision, and objectives/goals? What stories do you and other leaders tell? What do you emphasize, recognize, and celebrate?
- How you communicate: Do you exhibit your core values in your personal and workplace behavior? Are you consistent in living out your core values as you pursue your organization’s purpose, vision, and objectives/goals?
The flow of information in your organization strongly affects its culture. Consider the following questions regarding your information flows:
- What kind of information is distributed in your company? Is it easy for your people to stay up-to-date about important information? This could include key metrics on company performance, new opportunities, or challenges.
- How about information regarding your people? Do you highlight employee achievements, accolades, and hobbies? Are major family events like birthdays, births & upcoming retirements recognized?
- Where does the information flow in your organization? It can flow vertically from one level to another. It also flows horizontally, among co-workers.
- What methods and mediums do you use to communicate with your team? Do you use email or an internal web portal to keep people up to date? How do you use face-to-face meetings to communicate with your people?
Policies and Practices
The policies and practices within your organization have their own impact on its culture. Consider how:
- Policies regarding pay scales, benefits, and opportunities to advance within the company all influence and help define your culture.
- Rules related to discipline and dress code also influence the overall culture of the organization.
- Practices and policies that govern how you do business, how you interact with suppliers, and how you serve customers – all help to shape your organizational culture.
Facilities, Inside and Out
The physical appearances of the inside and outside of an organization’s place of business speak volumes about the organization’s culture.
Walk around your place of business and observe how the following items shape your culture:
- Things that your company displays or exhibits
- Personal touches that people bring to the workplace
- The layout and organization of workspace and common areas
- Cleanliness and orderliness of the inside and outside of the facility, how sound/noise are controlled, and the general upkeep of premises
The culture of your organization is affected by your people, information flows, policies and procedures, and workplace environment. The good news is that your leadership determines the direction of all of these factors.
As you become aware of any deficiencies in your culture, you can take active steps to lead your people toward the culture that you desire!
What one area of your organizational culture will you examine today?