“Corporate Culture” is one of those impossible-to-quantify, “squishy” concepts. Because of this, many business leaders don’t say much about it. A company either has a good one, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, a deep breath and a sigh of resignation are about the only responses many business leaders are inclined to give. That’s unfortunate because a vibrant corporate culture can be a game changer for businesses of any size. It can provide that magic spark needed to do more than just survive, but actually thrive in today’s fast-moving business world. Here are a number of specific things you can do to begin to change the culture of your business, but be warned, once you start, you might find these strategies addictive!
Lead By Example
In many ways, corporate culture takes its cues from the owner of the business and his or her inner circle of upper management. If you sacrifice selflessly for your employees, they’ll sacrifice selflessly for the company. If you have the backs of each and every one of your employees, then they’ll have your back when the going gets tough.
Too often, members of the upper echelons of your management structure sail through your corporate offices like majestic icebergs, cold, aloof, and untouchable. If your employees tend to sit in silence all day, cloistered in their little cubicles, look in the mirror and look to your management team. You’ll probably see that behavior reflected there.
Your Extended Family
Greet, and treat your employees like cherished family members. This can be difficult, because it forces you to walk a fine line. At the end of the day, these are still your employees, and too often, people who go down this road can take it too far, which destroys their effectiveness as business owners and managers. The trick here is to allow yourself a certain level of familiarity with your employees (and they with you), without crossing over into territory, which enables your employees to begin taking advantage of that familiarity.
When done correctly and with the right balance, this strategy alone can radically alter the topography of your corporate culture. Primarily, this happens because your employees start to genuinely relax around you and your management team. Contrary to popular belief, when they start to relax in response to a collegiate, familial atmosphere, they start doing their best work. After all, who wants to let family down, extended or otherwise?
Small Talk and Chatter
Many companies frown on small talk except during lunch breaks. Any time spent hanging out by the water cooler swapping stories is time not spent conducting the business of your business, and is widely perceived as a spectacular waste of time.
Actually, it’s anything but.
We humans are social creatures. It’s encoded in our DNA. When we were just getting a handle on things like stone tools and fire, it was our social natures that allowed us to cooperate and thrive, not as individuals, but as a unit. These days, we smell better and have more impressive technology, but that basic truth remains unchanged. We’re still inherently social, and we’re at our best when we’re a cooperative social group.
Business is social, by definition, so doesn’t it stand to reason that your business will be more successful and your company’s culture will be more vibrant if you give your people time to be social with one another? Try it for yourself and see. You’ll be amazed at the results