Strong corporate culture provides two seemingly competing characteristics: stability and dynamism. The stability is provided by deep principles on which the culture is based. The dynamism is provided by the actions and attitudes that constantly grow and evolve based on those core principles. It is a way of looking at the stars while having feet firmly planted on the ground.
Practicality and creativity can feed each other in the right setting.
Without culture, a business is nothing more than a place people go to work so they can support themselves. Things may get done, but beyond basic business processes, the company is relatively inert, giving up countless opportunities to make lives better, both inside and outside the walls of the business.
Following are five key aspects of a healthy and successful company culture. Work on improving them, and you create a business that’s more than just a place for people to work and earn paychecks.
There’s little mystery why so many leadership coaching clients work on mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment and accepting the current reality. It helps tune out distractions and promotes problem-solving and creativity. Developing mindfulness in the workforce doesn’t require mandatory yoga classes, but it does require instilling a culture of focusing on the moment, and leaders who practice mindfulness and set a great example. It also requires acknowledging times when it’s appropriate to celebrate or to step away from work momentarily to appreciate why we do what we do.
2. Organization-Wide Understanding of the Importance of Culture
If the corporate culture is only talked about in meetings of department heads or is only taken seriously by some of the departments, the benefits won’t be apparent. Every employee, regardless of their position on the organizational chart, must be educated about what the company is about: not just making semiconductors or designing glassware, but also being a force for positive change in the world. Everyone needs to know that their contribution matters, and how their contribution matters.
3. Cutting Back the “Weeds” of Negativity
Just as actual weeds can take over an untended garden in record time, the corporate “weeds” of negativity grow fast and can choke out positive initiatives if left unchecked. This is not to say that everyone must show a forced positivity at all times, but that genuine complaints are considered and listened to, rather than ignored and left to transform into rumors and general negative energy. Negativity must not be ignored, but understood, so it can be addressed and not allowed to strangle positivity.
Attention to culture helps prevent the “weeds” of negativity from taking over.
4. Ensuring Company Values Work with, not Against Each Other
What are your corporate values? If you spelled them all out, do they show a coherent direction, or do some of them seem at cross-purposes with others? If you say you value outstanding productivity and each employee’s growth and well-being, do you allow one of those to “win” over the other? How will you tell when one value needs to take precedence over another, and how will you bring things back into balance when that is no longer the case? Don’t just say you value something: demonstrate that you do.
5. Being Part of a Larger Community
It doesn’t matter if your company is self-contained in one location or distributed among teams around the globe: it is part of a larger community. Maybe your company headquarters takes up an entire city block, but it is also part of the neighborhood and the city. How does it make those places better? Community outreach and social responsibility are important, not only for young professionals looking for the best places to work but for the good of the surrounding community. The “goodwill” benefits of making the community better may not be as easy to measure as numbers on an annual report, but they carry tremendous weight.
If you are focused on the direction of your corporate culture, I invite you to learn more about my corporate culture and transformation advisory services. Both the historic numbers and my own experiences have taught me that the current and future operating success of a business is tied to the health and maturity of its culture, and I can teach you how to develop a transformation plan that will put your company on the path to genuine, long-term success.