Playing For Keeps: Building a Winning Culture
What does it mean to be "winning"? Does it mean you're successful every step of the way? Does it mean you make the most money over your competitors? Not really, at least not necessarily. Fostering workplace culture that is considered "winning" goes much further than your bottom line. It has more to do with developing and nurturing an environment that is conducive to forward-thinking, a successful mindset and a deep-down belief that you're all in this together. If you can bring people who work for you together rather than segment them, you're taking a solid first step.
Think about Google, JetBlue, Facebook, Apple, Disney...these are all companies that are well known for their coveted corporate cultures. Sure, they're wildly successful, but there's a really good reason, and that reason has everything to do with employees and customers that truly love those companies. Eighty-one percent of business leaders say a company lacking a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity, with fewer than 10 percent of businesses succeeding in building an empire, according to Entrepreneur.
Importance of Culture
So, why is culture so important? It will set the stage for everything you do from here on out. If you're a startup, you may feel a bit intimidated and even terrified of this statement. But it's true: from your hires to the way you run your daily operations, you have opportunity upon opportunity to set yourself apart from all the rest. How you treat your customers, for example, is a big chunk of that. Another big chunk? Your leadership. Leadership is about what you do rather than what you say, with a healthy company culture emerging as a direct result of a leader who understands how important company culture is to the sustained growth of the organization, points out Forbes. So, whether you run a startup out of your garage or you're the CIO of a big technology company, get back to your roots and build a positive workplace culture right in. You can't survive and thrive without it.
Tips to Fostering the Culture You Want
It doesn't happen overnight, but there are ways you can integrate a positive workplace culture from the get-go. Here are some tips:
Learn from mistakes: Not just yours, but other organizations around you. Take those lessons, internalize them, learn from them, and know what it takes to cultivate success.
Align your culture with your core values: Who are you? What is your business all about? Whether philanthropic in nature or customer-focused, infuse your passion into the workplace to encourage creativity, collaboration, work hard/play hard mindset: whatever it is that drives you forward every day, foster that passion in everyone who works for you. Your brand will follow you everywhere. Make sure it aligns with your core values.
Insist on open communication: The ability to build honesty among your staff is built on communication. Talking with each other is key. Encourage your staff to come to you with concerns, and address those concerns quickly. Make sure everyone knows their opinions are valued.
Have some fun: From craft beer Fridays to company outings to team building exercises like rock climbing or wine tastings, there are many ways you can join your staff together in a common interest and let off steam at the same time. Connecting on a level that doesn't involve work always brings people closer together.
Be a community of believers: If your employees don't believe inherently in what you do or sell, they can't fully back it. Place a big emphasis on internal communication and orientation, and you'll see results. Sustaining a positive work atmosphere means you have to show your employees why the brand they're promoting is so great.
Work together: Building a sense of community begins and ends with a solid team. Rather than segregating departments of units, promote unity through all levels of your company, from founders to management to executives.
Grow your culture: This isn't a "set it and forget it" job. Fostering a company culture that will survive takes continual effort. Like a lawn without water, your culture will die a slow death if you neglect it. Give your organization the freedom it needs to thrive and evolve. Remember, you will see fluctuations as it grows. This is normal and expected.
Whether you're the genius behind a cool startup, or you're the new CIO of a long-established company in need of a change of vision, you have the power to establish a winning culture people want to be a part of.