As a leader, I think we all wish there was a “one size fits all” path to a magnificent culture.
It sure would make trying to balance creating and maintaining a unified culture easier in the face of what has become one of the fastest business growth periods we have experienced in quite some time! Sometimes trying to balance both can be mentally and physically exhausting and many times feels like a battle that is impossible to win.
While every business needs strong revenues to survive, I would argue that culture trumps a linear focus on profits, as it is your people who are the heartbeat of what makes organizations successful. So, let’s start with what even makes up a culture?
What Is Culture?
The culture of an organization is its invisible asset. Rather than relying on company policies to drive accountability and performance, culture deals directly with social cues, and how your people engage make the company great. While strategy is important, culture can keep people engaged, keep turnover low, and is really critical to a business.
Everyone who works at a company plays a role in their company’s culture. Most people have heard the phrase “one bad apple spoils the bunch”. Well, it’s true. Having one person who is difficult and “stirs the pot” will be sure to bring everyone else down with them. And honestly, some people will never buy into your vision for the organization and would be happier elsewhere.
Building a culture that aligns with your company’s mission and values should be a focus when searching for new team members. Hire carefully to ensure they are a positive addition to a team, and fire fast if you can tell there’s a bad apple leaving a negative impact on the people around them. One of my mentors once told me the first time you think about firing someone is when you probably should. Scary insight!
The Changing Dynamics
So much has changed in our world since the outbreak of COVID-19 that has kind of sent “culture” and all it stood for onto its knees. First of all, for a time everyone went remote. And seriously, how many Zoom happy hours can you have before the teammates start to feel disconnected? Now that some folks are coming back to the office, there is the challenge of the inequity of some roles being able to work remotely, while others cannot. This has absolutely caused chaos for some of our clients culturally.
We also have four different generations in the workplace (soon to be five) and the differences in how people were raised, what work/life balance means to each, etc. have become front and center. Trying to keep everyone happy and meet them where they “think” has become increasingly difficult. HR professionals are constantly trying to balance everyone’s needs – and we’re seeing people leave this profession in droves because of pure exhaustion.
Steps To Creating An Amazing Culture
If you currently hold a leadership role, make sure to check in regularly with everyone on the team, as transparent communication is the best way for leaders to know what’s going on. Constant sharing of the vision, company changes, and important business information is critical for teammates to understand the “why”. Explain to all how what you do affects the end-user and why in the big scheme of things it matters. We regularly talk about the lives we impact for candidates, their families, and the lifecycle of our clients in business growth through new talented hires.
Implementing this advice will ensure everyone knows they are significant. Involving people in important decision-making and providing feedback on the good they’re doing, alongside the problem conversations, makes people feel needed and that they are filling a necessary role – which they are!
Investing time into making employees feel needed and supported is a great first step in creating a magnificent company culture, but to go above and beyond there’s a social aspect that companies should invest in.
Engaging co-workers as workers is one thing, but what about as people? Being able to put together bonding events outside of work allows your employees to get to know each other better and be more comfortable with everyone. Work is 40+ hours a week, people should feel welcome to bring their whole self to work and social events allow people to give others a better idea of who that whole self is. It’s common for people to emphasize professionalism over personality at work, making sure they’re always doing the politically correct thing. While being professional is certainly important, the personalities of the people within an organization should be able to shine through.
Here at ERG, we host weekly Office Olympics bonding events in the summertime as well as several parties, picnics, gift-giving, and celebrations for every holiday that are always a huge hit and make people feel special and celebrated.
Now more than ever, professionals care deeply about the values and the mission of an organization. Making sure a company conveys strong values and sticks to them builds trust and pride.
It’s worth noting that while most, if not all companies write down a mission statement, employees nor customers will be able to recite it back word for word. What does this mean? It means that what other people think of your workplace and what assumptions they have will determine how the organization is portrayed, not one or two sentences out of the company handbook or plucked from the website.
Has anyone gone out of their way to help me? Do these people genuinely care about me and my success? Questions like these are what others will ask when thinking about what values a company exudes.
Encouraging employees to have pride in the work they do, learn more about others as people, and bring their whole selves to work is the perfect way to create a magnificent company culture. The benefits to a great culture are abundant and will help your company and everyone in it for the long term. And the journey will never be over.
The talent market is tight. It’s been a huge challenge for all of us. Need advice and counsel? We’re only a phone call away – 920.996.9700!
ABOUT SHARON HULCE
Sharon Hulce is President/CEO of Employment Resource Group, Inc. (ERG), a nationwide Executive Search firm headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin. Sharon is a 26-year veteran of the Search industry and is known nationwide as an innovation leader, not only focusing on hiring great talent, but also the empowerment and retention of that talent.
Sharon understands it takes excellent emotional intelligence, strong behavioral competencies, technical knowledge and strong social interaction to find the right new hires and then integrate them into a corporate culture for success. Sharon personally becomes fully vested in her client’s businesses – helping them transform their companies by creating awareness around their most valuable asset – its people.
Sharon is very passionate about her community. ERG’s gift back to the community over its 20+ years as a company is its transformation of non-profit organizations, having conducted over 85 non-profit leadership searches pro-bono, valued at over $6 million in donated search fees back to the area.
Additionally, Sharon has served on numerous boards locally, as well as currently serving as an Executive Board Member of The Pinnacle Society, a consortium of the top 80 recruiters in the country. Sharon is a sought-after speaker, sharing her thought-leadership at countless corporate presentations, national conferences and even a TEDx talk. She recently became a Forbes published author of her first book, A Well Done Professional Midlife Crisis available on Amazon or SharonHulce.com.