If there's one thing that we can all agree on, it's that no company is perfect. Both new and established businesses are on a continuous cycle of improvement and development, but that improvement cannot take place without fostering the right company culture.
In this article, we take a closer look at company culture and share ideas on how you can create a culture that represents your beliefs, goals and behavior’s, and works for your employees.
Start by building a foundation
One of the first things that you should do in order to create a great company culture is to build a foundation. Whether you're starting a new business or you're making changes to an existing company, it's important to outline the foundational values of your business. Ask yourself questions such as ‘What do I want this company to be known for?' and ‘How does the company's mission align with the values of our employees and customer base?'. It might mean that you have to go back to the beginning and remember why you started your company in the first place. Take your time, and get the basics right.
I would strongly suggest to support the above, that you consider background checks / pre-employment screening for all employees.
Define your core values
Once you have the foundations in place for your corporate culture change, the next thing that you should consider is values. Identifying your company values - again, these can be values that you already hold or values that you'd like your company to hold - will allow you to improve your culture and have something to look back on and to refer to when things get tough.
The good thing about defining values is that they can be broad statements, rather than being too specific. A value for a business might be to always be inclusive, whilst a goal or target might be to have a 50:50 ratio of male to female senior managers. Feel free to take inspiration from other businesses when defining your values, but remember that unique cultures are more authentic and will be more likely to inspire employees to work harder, be more engaged, and stick around.
Try not to overthink your values. A handful of core beliefs and values will work better than a whole list, so be concise and pick ideas that can be applied to your entire business makeup.
Put the wheels into motion
Now that you have a short list of clear values the next step is to put them into action. Of course, strong communication is key, here, as you want to ensure all of your employees understand your way of thinking and get on board with the cultural change. Once they know (this can be done through a meeting, through your internal intranet or through a training course), then you should get all of your managers and decision makers involved in your cultural change.
Remember that your company values should be considered in everyday activities, and whenever you communicate with your employees. If you send mixed messages or you’re inconsistent with your own values, then employees will feel let down or confused and may lose faith in your business. Consider creating a company communication guidebook to ensure that all communications are consistent, right down to how you address employees. For example, for businesses that want to foster a relaxed and ‘family-like’ culture, managers might choose to only use employees’ first names when addressing them in person or via email.
Assess your culture regularly
The best business owners know that change takes time and that overhauling a company culture won't be an overnight thing. Regularly assessing your culture and looking for ways to make improvements is the best way to ensure success, and it allows you to get the opinions of your employees and create a more collaborative dialogue between parties.
Within the first few months of a new values system, you might want to review your changes monthly to see what’s working and what’s slowing employees down. As your company grows and your culture adapts, then annual reviews and assessments might work in your favour.
The truth is that changing company culture requires hard work and effort, so if you’re prepared to put in the hours and show your staff that you care, then you’ll be rewarded in spades.
A company culture that is inclusive is a company culture that works for everyone. Whether you are a small business or you’ve grown into a multinational brand, it’s important that you include every employee in your directions, and that you listen to their thoughts and ideas when you make changes to your business. If people feel like they have a role in your company, and they feel like their ideas are being heard and considered, they’ll want to do their best work and put in more time at your company. Not only that, but your ground staff will likely have the best ideas out of everyone on how to improve culture, so listening to what they have to say makes sense.
By fostering transparent communication and inclusion, you'll be able to improve your company culture without too much effort. I would personally argue that businesses should “review their internal meetings structure and consider inviting members of staff that usually wouldn’t have an input”. Doing so, they say, allows for “more creative and collaborative work, and ensures that every member of staff gets their say”.
Creating the right company culture is so important, not only for your brand image and service but because your employees will be more likely to enjoy their time in the office if their personal values and ideals align with those of your company. And it goes without saying - if your staff enjoys their time working with you, they'll be more loyal to your brand, and more productive, too.
Fostering the right company culture can also improve the efficiency of your business. Not only will everybody be on the same page, but hiring new employees will be much easier, as you’ll have a clear idea of the type of member of staff you want to employ, and their training and development will be much more straightforward.
Indeed, changing your company culture may take time, and it may be met with some resistance, especially amongst employees who are set in their ways, but it’s essential if you want to grow and expand as a business, especially if you want to expand abroad. We wish you the best of luck with your changes.
Seasoned Business and Investment Professional in Latin America. Craig Dempsey is the CEO and Co-Founder of a leading multi-national group, that specializes in the provision market entry and back office services in the Latin America. Craig holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Project Management. Craig is also a veteran, having served as an Australian military officer on numerous overseas missions and also a former mining executive with experience in various overseas countries.