Designing the corporate culture of a business is a crucial component of long-term success. It’s not enough to just let it develop over time without care, thought, or purpose. You must think about how the culture should look and feel within your company. This should not be one more thing to add to your to-do list, but instead an integral component of your company, just like your products, services, and employee choices.
Before you decide to cultivate the corporate culture of your company, you must have a firm understanding of what corporate culture is. According to Investopedia.com, corporate culture is the “beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.”
You can read more about the specific benefits of creating a corporate culture and how it impacts various businesses here.
Creating the corporate culture of your company should involve an open conversation between everyone in the organization from the top down, but it shouldn’t start that way.
Begin the process by having a meeting with the leaders of your business to develop a baseline understanding of what the foundational values and beliefs are related to
While there’s no guarantee that the ideas you develop during the beginning of this process will make it to the final stage of your corporate culture plan, this is a great place to start before you involve your full team.
After developing a foundational overview of the values and beliefs of your organization, it’s time to bring in your employees.
Depending on the size of your organization and the current culture, this can be done anonymously via a digital format, or in person by having a traditional roundtable conversation.
If your company is smaller and used to open communication, an in-person roundtable meeting might be best.
If your company is larger, or you believe some employees might not feel comfortable giving their honest opinions in the open, it might be best to send out an anonymous digital survey.
Whether this stage is completed in person or virtually, you must set the purpose for the conversation. Explain why you are gathering this information. Ensure they understand the end goal and why their input is essential. Explain to them your next steps in the process.
This helps them become fully engaged in the development of the corporate culture and allows them to respond to the questions with the background knowledge and foresight necessary to give their best responses.
Once you have a conversation with your employees and flesh out the final corporate culture of your company, it’s time to gain buy-in.
Everyone might not be excited about the new culture you’ve set in place. Maybe it’s because they feel the current culture is good enough. Perhaps it’s because they don’t want to see change.
Whatever the reason, it’s crucial to gain buy-in, if only from a few employees to start. This is because when you start a new mission or process, those who believe in it will start the domino effect of support. These supporters will act as role models and express to their co-workers in a peer to peer conversation the benefits of this new initiative.
You might need a bit more of a boost in increasing employee engagement in the corporate culture process. If you are seeking additional support, download a free copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement where I share best practices for getting your employees engaged in your company’s success.
Now that you have a corporate culture in place that you’ve designed, it’s time to implement it. Setting a plan in place is the simple part. Incorporating it in your day to day business practices will test whether you can maintain this culture.
Make sure you stay focused on your ultimate corporate culture goals, and if necessary, you might need to teach and reteach your employees how to operate within this new culture.
Here’s a bonus tip as you’re designing your corporate culture and expecting your employees to buy-in to the process and follow along. You must with no doubt lead by example.
Remember that you are being watched at all times by your employees. Everything in business comes from the top down, so your employees will follow your lead.
If you start out strong in modeling the new culture then get lax around month 2, they will believe the initiative is not very important, and they will get lax as well. However, if you’re serious about it and model the culture on a daily basis, they will see you and hopefully become more serious about it as well.
Make the culture a part of who you are as a leader. Be the biggest cheerleader and supporter of the new corporate culture and hold yourself to a higher standard than your employees. That means if you want your employees to shoot for the stars, you need to be on Neptune. It wouldn’t be the expectation that the majority of your employees land on Neptune with you, but some will rise to the occasion, others will fall short, but at least they won’t still be on planet Earth.
Above all else, remember, your energy is contagious. It’s your role to guide your employees in the design and implementation of your company’s corporate culture.
Culture must be created, grown, and sustained by design over the long term. Cindy is a Culture Transformation Specialist for corporations. She uses a restorative process called A.I.R.R. to elevate your company culture and bring integration between your leadership, vision, culture, and team members to enhance overall performance.