Culture is a living element, and it permeates all aspects of your company. From the way you acknowledge people, to the way you give feedback and have courageous conversations, it all ties into your infrastructure at all levels. Culture includes a company’s standards, expectations, experience, and values that hold a team together. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs and unwritten rules.
Company culture starts at the top. Executives cannot dictate a great culture; they can only lay the groundwork for a great culture to take hold. Culture impacts every business metric from customer service to profitability. It’s the key to retention, since employees rarely leave a company that has a magnetic culture.
Here are 14 steps that leaders can take to build a magnetic company culture that will attract and keep the best talent:
- A Sense Of Purpose And Meaning
Company culture does not happen overnight. It’s a process that starts with your vision, mission and values. At the core, company culture is about values. These foundational elements give employees a sense of purpose and ownership that cannot be created instantaneously. The role of a leader is to bring the foundational elements to life by leading conversations with their people about how their work adds value to the company’s end goal.
Aligning people and culture to a shared purpose is critical for employee happiness. There needs to be compatibility between people’s visions, goals and values and those of the company. Your people need to see how they fit into the larger picture to activate their sense of purpose and meaning. According to Gallup’s 2018 State of the American Workplace report, only 4 in 10 US employees strongly agree that their mission or purpose of their company makes them feel their job is important.
- Values Guide Your Daily Actions And Decisions
Company values help ensure each human from top leadership to entry-level, are working towards the same goal and share a bigger purpose. A study from IBM Smarter Workforce Institute and Workhuman Analytics Research Institute found that when employees agree their work is consistent with organizational values, there is a 50 percent point increase in employee experience.
Values create long-lasting successful and inspiring places to work. Leaders can start with examining what values they share with the company and in turn facilitate conversations with their employees. Asking “what are you passionate about?” and “what pushes your buttons?” will tell you a lot about someone’s values. Your values are where company culture lives.
- It’s Not Enough To Get People In, You Must Engage Them
Establishing core values and having support for them is the foundation of an engaged, productive workforce. Values help you decide who you will hire, how and why you do business and with whom. It shows the world what it can expect from your company.
When you have determined your company values, living them is more important. Your people must be clear how the values translate into actions. Performance goes hand in hand with values. There needs to be a balance between performance goals and autonomy in deciding how to achieve them. When you invest time to explore what lights people up about their work, how it links with the mission and vision of the company, engagement is created and is the catalyst to productivity.
- If Your People Don’t Trust You, They Won’t Follow You
By taking the pulse of your culture, it allows you to understand how people feel about the workplace, interactions and business. One way may be to run a focus group with different employees from different departments, experience levels and titles. Ask them to review the vision, mission and values and seek evidence of how they are implemented on a practical level daily.
Feedback is worth its weight in gold as it ensures alignment of business priorities throughout the company. Leaders must review feedback and adjust in alignment with the vision, mission and values. All must walk the talk.
- Who You Are Being Matters
As a leader, your attitude and state have an impact on the people around you. When you are happy, ripples are created. When you are overwhelmed, frustrated or angry, ripples are created. Happiness is a habit that can be modelled. Expressing gratitude is one form of training your brain to conduct a trans-derivational search – to be on the search for more of what is great in your world. By making gratitude a habit, you set the example for others and contribute to nurturing a positive work environment.
- Stay In Your Lane
Passionate people are driven by a purpose. Leaders who start with why they inspire those around them to act and keep people focused on their goals throughout the year to reinforce the big picture. By facilitating conversations in how each target contributes to the organization, why this specific goal is important in the bigger picture and how everyone can benefit from accomplishing the goal, creates an environment where everybody wins.
- Presence Matters
If you invest in people, they invest in your business. When leaders support and show genuine concern for their people by spending time, asking about what matters to them and allowing them to get to know you, people feel a sense of belonging.
I’m not talking about disclosing every personal detail, I’m referring to taking time for personal interaction both internal and external to the office can be a powerful ally in developing ways to support, celebrate and influence people to bring the best and whole selves to work. When people feel a human connection, loyalty and inspired people want to contribute more and work harder.
- Transparent communication
According to a survey by the Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness, the number one characteristic of a successful team is communication. Bringing the vision and mission to life and defining the priorities through consistent communication channels. By tapping into the knowledge base and experience of your people bypasses the traditional methods of communication where everything comes top down.
- Leverage Strengths
Human beings all carry baggage. Never met a single person who hasn’t been challenged throughout life. Every human brings their socialization from childhood into the workplace. As a leader, adjusting to what each employee needs, that is, being behaviorally flexible creates an environment where you can support individuals to commit to business goals in alignment with their capabilities, strengths and motivations. By tapping into people’s strengths, you are more likely to engage the hearts and minds of your people.
- Keep Things Real
If things are not where they must be, don’t sweeten it. If direction changes, don’t wait to communicate. Engaging your team and keeping them informed of changes and why creates transparency. People appreciate keeping things real. When goals are not on target or things go wrong, ask for feedback on how to get back on track. Invest your energy on being solution focused, not problem saturated.
- Big Boosts In Positivity
Encouraging people to show gratitude and expressing appreciation, is the ideal vehicle to boost positivity and in turn create happy employees. A company must empower and support their people for success by giving the right kind of resources, feedback, clarity and direction.
By offering fast, positive feedback, resources and emotional support, companies are fostering a trusted environment. According to the Employee Experience Index, employees who receive regular feedback on their work performance are more likely to report a positive employee experience.
- Professional Development In Today’s Climate Is Non-Negotiable
When you create environments where regular feedback and monthly check-ins are embedded, ongoing discussions ensure alignment with objectives, expose blind spots and amplify strengths. By coaching managers in providing feedback with an attitude of ‘what needs to be done next’ rather than deliberating on past performance, induces dialogue on a deeper level as people want to be able to grow and be better humans.
Championing people who drive the progress of the company is a critical way to determine whether individuals are heading towards a leadership role. The more personal development opportunities within the organization, the more you will attract and retain talent.
- Recognition Programs
The most direct way to celebrate people, reward employees for progress, achievements and operational excellence, is through employee recognition. Korn Ferry stated that “companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5x greater than their competitors.
Recognition is an integral part of employee wellness and the benefits permeate the fabric of the company culture. Celebrating people in real time, recording a video message congratulating them on a presentation or tapping into their love languages at work creates ripples within the company and influence culture.
Public recognition is the most under-utilized leadership tool. Google created a ‘Wall of Happy where their “thanks” notes are posted and celebrated. Co-workers can send a public shout-out via an online thank you note to coworkers.
- Love Languages At Work
The five love languages initially developed to improve communication in intimate relationships was rebranded to fit within a workplace context. When applied in the workplace, touch referred to a high-five or a handshake in the context of celebration, quality time being fully in the present moment with your co-worker, acts of service involved collaboration on a project or getting a task done, tangible gifts included exploration of what someone liked, enjoyed and aligning what you buy them with what is important to them and words of affirmation was a statement, public or not, the value in the language used to affirm the other person.
By engaging your people to directly identify their appreciation preferences creates an opportunity for leaders to celebrate them in alignment with who they are.
Leaders Drive A Magnetic Culture
Fostering a happy, productive and magnetic company culture impacts growth within the company, both at the individual and company level. A culture requires everyday efforts to make a greater impact and when leaders support their team to realize the best version of themselves, people create the best version of the company.
This column was originally published on Eden.io on 8 July 2019 https://www.eden.io/blog/14-steps-creating-magnetic-company-culture