Every organization has a culture. Does your company’s culture attract and retain the people who believe in and live your company’s values? Culture will hold a company together or can tear it apart. How will you establish a culture that is magnetic, one where loyalty and longevity are standard? If you already have a magnetic culture, how can you make sure that it stands the test of time?
By definition company culture is…
a system of values, beliefs, and behaviors that shape
how real work gets done within an organization.
It predicts company performance, and is shaped and cultivated
at the most senior levels of the organization.
Your Company Culture should be reflected in your purpose, mission and vision.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the key to a successful organization is to have a culture based on a strongly held and widely shared set of beliefs that are supported by strategy and structure.
When an organization has a strong culture, these things happen:
- Employees know how leadership wants them to respond to any situation
- Employees believe that the expected response is the proper one
- Employees know that they will be rewarded for demonstrating the organization’s values
- Customers feel engaged and appreciated
- Customers have a connection and loyalty to the organization
The role of the employer to perpetuate a strong culture starts at the first interaction with the prospective employee (and customer). Recruiting applicants who share your company’s beliefs and values will strengthen the entire organization. Culture must be built from the recruitment process through interviews, orientation and on-boarding then through training, mentoring, performance reviews and growth opportunities. Building culture is an on-going process that cannot stop after the employee walks through the door.
You can take the word culture (Latin for cultivat- “prepare for crops”) from its roots, literally. As you will see in the next section, culture cannot be left to chance! If you aren’t sure where to start, connect with us for a complimentary consultation. At 3rd level, we are here to help you every step of the way.
Many metaphors have been used over the years to assist with understanding of company culture.
- Iceberg – focusing on the importance of knowing not only what happens above the surface, but knowing that a significant portion resides below the surface
- Onion – peeling back the layers to see what created the outside
- Tree – similar to the iceberg with only being able to see what is above ground, but having an awareness of what the roots need to impact the growth and health of the tree
What it boils down to is that it all starts with an experience or interaction. Every experience or interaction has a personal perception by both parties. It goes much deeper than what you can easily see – similar to the inner layers of an onion, the roots of a tree or the portion of the iceberg that is under water. Positive, negative or neutral – what we perceive becomes what we believe over time depending on the amount of repetition, etc.
What constitutes an experience or interaction?
- Body Language
Perception is reality.
Alignment of your employees’ and customers’
perception of the organization
with the company beliefs and values
is critical to sustaining
an on-going magnetic culture.
As any human starts to mentally record each experience or interaction, beliefs begin to be formed. Beliefs will develop a company culture based on the perception of the interactions.
If an interaction had a negative perception, remediation is urgent. The same goes for a message being interpreted differently than intended. In the “Initiatives” section, best practices for on-going conversations and feedback will show you how handle realigning when a situation causes culture to run off course. With the 3rd Level Consulting eLearning School of Business, The Children’s Activity Center Industry “MBA” you can learn about this in the Dynamic Communication course. Connect with us to determine your best option for access to the courses.
Creating Your Value-Driven Culture
Creating your value-driven culture starts with an understanding. As a leader, you must be aware of the changes over time in what drives employee engagement.
Employee Values and Expectations
||· My Purpose
||· My Development
|· My Boss
||· My Mentor / Coach
|· My Annual Review
||· My Conversations
|· My Weaknesses
||· My Strengths
|· My Job
||· My Life
What people used to want was a job that they were able to perform without an emotional attachment. What people now want is a career where they feel important and are recognized as a contributor. People much more likely to stay in a position where they feel appreciated and have healthy work-life balance even if the pay is lower. Toxic Company culture was listed as the top reason for leaving an employer (62% of surveyed) in a 2022, Forbes survey.
Similar changes have occurred over time with respect to customer expectations regarding culture.
Customer Values and Expectations
|· Quality Service
|· Timely Response
||· 24/7 Access / Speed
|· Fair Treatment
||· Connected experience
||· Listen, Appreciate, Respond
Given the change in focus, the first step to creating a value driven culture is to establish your foundation (purpose & values) which is supported by your cultural pillars (expectations) which will support the roof keeping everyone safe and secure. Establishing your culture starts with understanding what builds that foundation.
The foundation starts with your Purpose, Mission & Vision which should include your beliefs, values and founding principles.
Sample: Company Purpose and Mission for both Recreational and Competitive Programs
Recreational Program: Our goal is to provide activities your children will love. We strive to improve the lives of our students by building relationships, improving confidence and teaching healthy habits through gymnastics-based programs. We want all participants to have FUN while participating in a safe and positive setting with fully-trained coaches. The experience shall be worthwhile, safe, motivating and long-lasting.
Competitive Program: This Program will give your child an opportunity to further develop his/her confidence, poise, individuality, mental and physical discipline, determination and self-respect. The staff is passionate, not only about the sport, but also about creating an environment where your child can learn and grow as an individual. Our goal is for your child to develop close relationships with other athletes and the coaches they are working with. The staff we employ demand the best out of themselves and expect the best in the athletes they work with. Our goal is to encourage teamwork and self-discipline, while creating a safe and fun environment for all involved. The experience shall be wholesome, worthwhile, motivating and long lasting!
Identify 5-7 pillars of company culture and provide details and definitions of each pillar. Be clear. Do not make assumptions. Emphasis on the importance, expectation and use of the pillars must be recurring – mentioning once in the staff handbook is not enough.
Sample Pillars of Culture
The foundation where it all starts combined with the pillars give your business strength. These same pillars should be shown throughout your company materials including your staff communication, customer rules and policies, website, social media and marketing.
Composition of Your Cultural Pillars
Behaviors and actions that follow your values, will strengthen the pillars yielding in improved performance and results.
According to Deloitte’s workforce study:
- American businesses lose $300 billion annually due to disengaged workers
- Organizations with engaged employees experience a 3-year revenue growth rate 2.3x higher than average
- Engaged employees are 57% more effective and 87% less like to leave
These factors and how they are handled in your organization can make or break your pillars:
- Psychological Safety
- Career Development
- Work-Life Balance
Employee engagement links directly to business outcomes
1 in 4 millennials rank employee satisfaction/fair treatment
as the most important value
~ Deloitte, Engaging the Workforce, EngagePath
Making employee engagement a top initiative is worth it! In our blog, “Keeping Employees Engaged & Happy,” we covered the acronym FOR RETENTION. These are initiatives that must be in place in order to establish employee engagement. Once those initiatives are in place, then a system for continued success involves monitoring & mentoring.
Ultimately; open, honest communication is the key. Communication appears over and over in our message in so many of the BizBuzz blogs. Employees and customers must feel important and valued. In our “Creating a Magnetic Culture” Monthly Mentoring, we will get into detail on the most important aspects and give you some interactive exercises to try. If you are interested in a copy of the recording, click here to find out how you can watch.
Showing employees how their work is meaningful and impactful, having supportive leadership and a positive work environment is all part of the intentional effort to development of a magnetic culture.
Mastering, Managing & Measuring Cultural Success
How do you manage and measure employee and customer engagement? Measuring once isn’t enough. Measuring annually isn’t enough. Your finger must constantly be on the pulse of the company culture. Sometimes this is more difficult in smaller companies as giving open, honest feedback can be intimidating. If your company isn’t large enough to do anonymous surveys, consider bringing in an outside company to work with and talk to your employees, contact us for more info.
Things to think about:
- Are you listening to your employees? Do you know how they feel about their jobs, co-workers, leaders?
- Is your communication plan working? If you need ideas, check out “Creating a Winning Communication Plan.”
- Do your employees feel supported and encouraged? Respected?
- How do your customers feel? Are they engaged and loyal? What suggestions would they offer for improvement? “Raising the Bar for Customer Service” provides more ideas in this area.
How can you make sure your workforce & customers are engaged and that your perception of a magnetic culture is a reality? Contact us to check out the webinar and work through the exercises and then we can follow up with a complimentary consultation and recommendations. We are available to assist virtually or on-site for an interactive workshop with your staff.
The bottom line is that a company culture that engages all levels of your organization including staff and customers is a necessity for long-term longevity. Culture is engrained in your business and goes far beyond just words. Establishing your foundation and pillars will lead to improvements in every aspect of your organization and ultimately a significant increase in growth and success!