In the first article of this series, we talked about why it’s important to define your company culture. There’s no right or wrong way to build your culture – what’s important is that you’re intentional about it, and that you build a culture that keeps your employees engaged and working towards your goals.
Also in the last article, I encouraged you to start thinking about the core values and priorities that you want to define your company culture. If you haven’t come up with a short list of key values yet, take some time to do that right now.
But, once you have your values defined, the real challenge becomes how to implement it – right? How can you actually create a company culture that your team embraces and lives out?
Here are four key steps to make it happen:
- You have to set the tone. As the leader of your business, you need to set the right example. If positivity and teamwork are core values, you can’t be seen around the office moping and complaining when something goes wrong. And you can’t be a loner – you need to work within the construct of your team. You set the tone, and whether you recognize it or not, your team is paying attention to your behavior and to the cues you’re giving. Culture starts with you. And if you have a management team in place, it’s critical that they’re setting the right tone as well.
- Reward and encourage good behavior. In time, you’ll start to see your team buy-in to the culture you’re creating. Make sure to affirm and reward these steps! It can be as simple as telling them “great job – I really appreciated the [value] that you just displayed.” You can go further than that, too – some businesses set-up quarterly tracking to make a competition out of it, for example.
- Reform or remove bad behavior. By the same token, you can’t tolerate behavior that goes against your culture. If showing up on time is an important part of your culture, you have to take action immediately when someone is late. The first step is to have a conversation with them and help them make a plan to stay on track. But if that doesn’t work – you have to part ways. You can’t afford to let employees undermine your culture or it won’t stick!
- Hire for cultural fit. Most businesses hire based on experience or ability – but if you expect to build a strong company culture, it’s important to hire people that will fit that culture. Include questions in your interview process that look for cultural fit. You may even consider letting your employees interview applicants with a specific goal of identifying cultural fit. We’ll have more on this in the next article of this series.
Bottom-line: It takes work to implement and maintain a strong company culture. But it’s worth it! These four tips will help you get started in the right direction.
Stay tuned for part three!