Whether it is tight or loose, every company has a culture. Culture is a set of values, beliefs, and attitudes that shapes an organization. Founders, directors, managers, and key decision makers are the top influencers of any organization’s culture.
I witnessed it first hand at 360training.com. You can’t just turn culture into a goal and mandate a certain culture within your organization. Rather, influence your organizational culture by setting the vision, mission, core values, and guiding principles of the company. I keep reminding my colleagues about what defines our culture during quarterly all-hands meetings and personally conduct new hire training sessions to discuss our culture.
But merely defining the characteristics, talking about the attributes, and highlighting the aspects of the organizational culture on banners and the intranet are not enough. You have to make all your decisions based on the cultural values and guiding principles. Any deviation from these determinants will cause mistrust within the organization. In a nutshell, your words and your actions characterize your culture.
It is important to note that building the right culture is not enough to achieve success. What matters most is ensuring that this culture is sustained. Over the years, I witnessed how a strong culture can be maintained through a continuous reinforcement of positive influences—such as keeping open lines of communication, treating employees with fairness and respect, and promoting a constant flow of honest feedback. At 360training.com, we’ve integrated these factors into our HR process to keep things simple and make it easier to reinforce the behaviors of our leaders.
Live your values. Let your values guide every decision you make and use them to explain your motivations (like what I am doing via this blog). Explaining my motivations behind certain decisions is something that I struggled with, as the company transitioned from a start-up to a grown-up business. My mentor taught me how critical it is to convey my motivations and explain why I am making certain decisions.
A strong culture will not only attract the right talent that your organization needs, but will also contribute in retaining staff as well. However, during the hiring process, make sure that the candidate fits well with your culture or can be able to show the desired influence on your culture. Remember, every person has the potential to impact your culture. But the more senior a person is, the stronger his/her influence may be on your organizational culture. That influence can be positive or negative. Hence, hiring the wrong person for your organization can lead to a disaster and can crash your culture. Create a recruiting process to identify those “culture crashers,” so that you can weed them out on the outset and prevent further damage.
Keep your commitments, be open and honest. Take the leap in creating a dynamic culture where people can thrive, make exemplary contributions to their fellow workers and customers, and help create a great company!