06 Apr The Principles of Developing Organizational Culture
Organizational culture lays the groundwork for your company’s success. 94% of executives and 88% of employees feel that workplace culture plays an important role in a business’ success. It sets the tone for your enterprise, deciding whether your workplace will be productive and supportive or competitive and stressful.
A positive organizational culture influences every aspect of your workplace, sometimes in unexpected ways. Employees in companies that emphasize a positive workplace culture routinely score 20% higher than companies that don’t. Examples of positive organizational traits include collaboration, work environment, and alignment with your company’s values and mission statement.
How can one develop organizational culture? Can you really influence how your employees and executives think and feel? And is developing a strong company culture really as mandatory as some have been saying?
We’re going to show you how to build up the organizational culture in your own workplace. We’re also going to show you how it can positively influence your business in every conceivable way. Some might even surprise you.
Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture
An organization is so much more than simply a way to make money. Organizational culture is about so much more than just ergonomics or productivity, as a result. Your company culture is everything that takes place within your enterprise, which greatly influences what will come out of it.
Organizational culture is defined as “The values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.” These include the organization’s expectations and the way it treats its employees. It also encompasses the central mission statement which influences everything from business goals to budgets.
But how can a company prioritize such intangible qualities? How can an HR department hire for taking pride in one’s work? How can quotas be instigated to encourage a cooperative environment?
Cultivating organizational culture isn’t impossible. It’s just very complex. It requires reading between the lines and understanding subtext.
Putting a system into place can provide you with that understanding. It also positions you and your employees for success. It also makes the working environment more pleasant and harmonious in the process.
Let’s look at the central concepts of an organizational culture. Then we’ll show how these concepts can be implemented in a practical manner.
Your company’s vision is the heart of your organizational culture. It’s your story, your creation myth. It’s the narrative the fuels both you and your employees, giving meaning to your work and fuel to your work ethic.
Beneath the fancy words, your organization’s vision is also your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). It’s what separates you from every other company on Earth. Getting really clear on what your company’s about is central to your organization culture.
If the vision is the ‘what’ of your company, your values are the ‘why.’ It’s a simple yet profound question. Why are you in business?
Yes, every business exists to make money. That goes without saying.. Is that the only reason your organization exists, though?
Think of your company’s values as the follow-up to your mission statement. It’ll help give customers a reason to do business with you. It also fuels your team when things get challenging.
For a good illustration of organization values, look at Google’s “Ten Things We Know To Be True.”
Our values are not based solely on what we say. Actions speak louder than words, as the saying goes. Your organization’s practices are where your values are tested and proven to be true.
Say your company’s mission statement is “providing ethical, sustainable technological solutions for a better world.” Now imagine that you don’t have a recycling system set up in your office. That doesn’t exactly back up your mission statement.
Your business practices are one of the most important components of organizational culture. It’s where the abstract qualities of your company’s visions and morals get put into action. It also lets you start breaking things down into practical, actionable steps.
Your organization is made up of people. You can have all of the lofty ambitions and high ideals in the world. The vision will fail to execute if your team doesn’t have the right players.
Finding the right people should be central to your business’ mission. It influences everything from workplace morale to your daily workflow. Making sure that everybody’s on the same page greatly reduces the need for micro-management, which furthers company morale even further.
Organizational culture influences every aspect of a company. Good organizational culture starts with HR as much as the C-suite.
Finding the right people to work with benefits absolutely everybody. Companies with employees that are a good cultural fit have a 30% lower turnover rate.
We touched on narrative a bit earlier, when we were discussing values. Your company’s story helps provide context not only for our customers but also employees.
Narrative is central to what it means to be human. Look at Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. This archetypal story can be found everywhere from Star Wars to King Arthur. It’s resonated with humanity for as long as we’ve been looking up at the stars and wondering, “Why are we here?”
Corporate narrative is also an example of how these subtle values can be leveraged into actual business strategies. It can influence everything from your marketing to the tone of your sales messaging.
Place is the ‘where’ of your company. Where your company is located is one part of your organization culture. It’s about much more than your Zip Code, though.
Corporate culture is hugely shaped by how your business is set up, quite literally. Is your office largely made up of cubicles, where employees rarely interact with one another? That will have a huge influence on its culture.
There is no right or wrong answer to how or where your business is set up. There is only your mission and values. You just need to think about how the geographic location and physical setup are effecting these goals.
This is still true if you’re operating remotely. These physical spaces can become a model for your digital infrastructure. Perhaps you might have a public Trello board, so everybody can see the big picture and visualize their place in it.
Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive
We spend a lot of time at work. The culture at our workplaces influences every aspect of our lives in almost any way you could think of. A stress-ridden, anxious workplace will give you ulcers and make you less productive, simultaneously.
Companies with high-pressure workplaces have 50% greater medical expenses than those that don’t. The American Psychological Association estimates that over $500 billion is lost due to workplace stress each year. Over 550 workdays are lost due to workplace stress each year.
This stress flows downwards, as well. The lower someone is in a company’s hierarchy, the more that stress influences them. A stressful boss has been linked to heart disease in workers.
So what does a positive workplace culture look like, in practice.
Harvard Business Review breaks a positive workplace culture down to six main components.
We spend a lot of time at work, as we’ve already mentioned. Having a friendly, warm relationship between your workers and management is integral for cultivating a positive workplace culture.
That’s not to suggest everybody needs to be best friends. Your coworkers and employees shouldn’t be complete strangers either, however. They definitely shouldn’t be your enemy.
Feeling supported is another essential aspect of a constructive workplace environment. Workers need to be able to come to management and fellow coworkers with problems. This can include issues outside of work, as well.
Feeling supported can help workers weather rough times. If you support them while they’re struggling, they will reward you with loyalty and a burning work ethic when things even out. It’s the definition of a give-take relationship.
We’re all human. Mistakes will be made. In fact, even algorithms make mistakes from time to time.
To exist is to err, it could be said.
Making mistakes is actually a good thing, even. It shows your employees are pushing themselves, trying new things and learning new skills. They won’t be perfect at all of them immediately.
Every member of your organization needs to be able to make mistakes. They need to be able to try new things and experiment with new ideas. They also need to know an error won’t mar their permanent record for all time.
Your business needs to build one another up, not tear each other down. Make your workplace environment collaborative rather than competitive. This can influence your organizational culture in ways that you might not even anticipate.
Imagine the stereotypical Friday night after work gripe session from businesses with more of a negative workplace culture. People sit around and trash talk their coworkers and bosses, focusing on flaws and pouncing on mistakes. It leaves workers dreading going back to work on Monday morning.
It also leaves them wondering what their coworkers might be saying about them, when they’re not around.
An inspiring workplace, however, builds people up. Accomplishes are noted and rewarded. Emphasis is placed on proactive attitudes and problem-solving. This creates a much different work environment than the competitive, backstabbing variety.
People need meaning in their lives. Feeling like you’re spending one-third of your life doing something that doesn’t matter undermines your mental health in nearly every way you can imagine. It also influences the way that you work, also in every imaginable way.
Workplaces with meaning are where your company’s values are put into practice and made concrete. Say environmentalism is an important aspect of your UVP. Your business might donate X amount for each quota your business makes, for example.
You could have a running tally in your workplace showcasing the good that your work is doing. Now, not only are your employees making more money, for you and themselves, they’re saving trees at the same time.
A respectful workplace is the exact opposite of the backstabbing company we hypothesized above. Instead of workers tearing one another down, they build each other up. This creates a harmonious, respectful work environment.
This also helps to foster the supporting, forgiving attitude we mentioned above. Employees need to be able to turn to their coworkers with problems, just as much as the management. This also helps free up your upper-level employees to focus on other problems, as an additional benefit.
HR’s Role In Organization Culture
HR plays an important role in organizational culture. The HR department makes sure that you have all of the necessary components to implement your business goals. It also helps to make sure that those goals remain on task.
Creating a positive workplace culture begins with hiring. This influences everything from the wording for your job listings to where those listings are posted. Using positive, constructive, actionable words in your job listings will help attract positive, motivated people.
Having a transparent HR department plays an important part in having a supportive, respectful work environment as well. Employees will feel like they have someplace to turn if there are problems, for instance.
Once these systems are set up and in place, a positive corporate culture becomes a self-sustaining feedback loop. Problems will be addressed as they come up, with regular check-ins between management and employees. Good deeds are rewarded and help is given when it’s needed.
Your entire organization will transform from secretive, stressed-out, and competitive to warm, friendly, open, and engaged. It can happen fairly quickly, as well, when you emphasize corporate culture as important.
Ready To Create A Great Organizational Culture?
Having the right people with the perfect mindset is central to have a healthy organizational culture. If you’re looking to find the best employees for your business or sector, contact us today to find out how we can help you find workers who are aligned with your business values.