Chris Kille is the CEO of Pay pilot and Elevate Outsourcing, based in Charlotte, NC.
The term ‘culture’ is often used casually, but it is a complex concept. It cannot be fully understood through simple language. Its meaning is multifaceted.
Think of your culture as a Jackson Pollock painting and your core values are the splashes of paint. Core values form the basis of your company’s culture; they are a set of priorities that can help you achieve your vision. Your mission statement may outline the overall goal for your company, but core values provide more detail about what drives that vision day in and day out.
What does a good work culture look like?
A good work culture is one in which employees are happy, feel safe, valued, have a voice and are respected. It’s a place where people can work together to achieve something great.
To achieve this, you need to focus on trust, respect and communication. In my experience, when your team members trust each other, they feel comfortable being open about what they want from their work experience and how to get it. They also know that if something doesn’t work for them, they can voice their opinion without fear of reprisal or repercussions from management.
Respect means that everyone has equal rights and responsibilities and an equal voice in decision-making processes within the company. Communication means everyone knows what’s going on at all times, so there are no surprises lurking around every corner like some kind of monster waiting to strike.
To develop this kind of culture in your company, I suggest keeping the following steps in mind.
1. List how others see your business now and how you want them to see it.
The first step in transforming your work culture is to take a step back and evaluate how others see your organization. This can be done through surveys or focus groups with employees, customers and even competitors. Once you clearly understand the current perception of your organization, you can compare it to how you want your organization to be perceived.
For example, suppose your organization is currently perceived as rigid and bureaucratic. To transform this perception, you could focus on becoming more flexible and responsive to change. By identifying the gap between your current and desired perceptions, you can then develop a plan to bridge that gap.
2. Own it and immerse yourself.
You can’t lead your team if you don’t understand the problem. Unless you know what the problem is, you can’t fix it. When trying to transform your work culture, the first step is to immerse yourself in it.
You need to see how your team works on a day-to-day basis and understand what is holding them back or making them less effective. This means not just sitting back and delegating, but getting out there, listening to people’s stories and working with them on a daily basis.
This is also a good time to take stock of your own values. What are they? Do they align with the company’s core values? It’s important to know this before you try to change things so you have something concrete to base decisions on how the company will move forward.
3. Don’t turn culture into a one-man project.
When trying to transform your work culture, it can be tempting to think that you are the only person who can influence change. But this is not true. One of the most important things you can do is get other people on board with your vision for the future of your business.
The best way to do this? Start listening. Ask questions, observe how others work and find out what needs to be improved. Then take action by making small changes every day until you reach your goal.
You don’t have to overhaul everything overnight; just start with something small and easy, like changing how often you update social media accounts or setting up a system where employees can submit ideas anonymously. It’s all about taking small steps towards something bigger than yourself.
4. Create a set of values to guide your efforts.
Now that you have a clear understanding of where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to make a real effort to transform your culture.
This step is all about developing a set of values that will guide your efforts. These values can be anything, such as “We try new things” or “We focus on our customers.” They should be specific and measurable so that everyone in your organization knows what they are and what they mean. Make sure they’re easy to understand, but also challenging enough to make employees feel like they’re working on something bigger than themselves.
The most important part of this process is making sure everyone on your team is aware of and believes in these values, even if it means having difficult conversations about why certain behaviors are inconsistent with these values.
For example, if your organization values innovation and creativity, you may want to set up a program to encourage employee creativity and innovation. In addition, you may want to reward employees for coming up with new ideas and taking risks.
An inclusive, engaged culture rewards you and your business.
While it can be difficult to decide on your core values and how you want to express them as a company, remember that it’s crucial to find something that works for you. Once you’ve established these values, it’s important to implement them in your work culture in a meaningful way. Create an open atmosphere where your employees feel comfortable collaborating on projects, respect each other’s views and values, and generally feel empowered. This will help you create the type of workplace that can drive growth while staying true to your values.