Corporate cultures can be tricky to modify—but it’s well worth your time and energy.
Your corporate culture encompasses the values, beliefs, behaviors and patterns that guide your company’s internal and external transactions. It defines how your employees and management behave in any business situation.
The challenge lies in the fact that a culture cannot be imposed. It must be nurtured and developed over time.
Companies with strong corporate cultures outperform their competitors by 20 to 30 percent, as professor James L. Heskett states in his book “The Culture Cycle.” As competition for talent becomes increasingly global, a thriving corporate culture is essential to attract and retain the best candidates. People naturally favor work cultures that inspire, motivate and uplift workers.
So, how can you influence and adapt your company culture? Try following these four steps:
1. Define your target culture.
For your desired culture to take hold, you must clearly state what it consists of and continuously communicate to all employees, both old and new. Be sure to clarify:
- A vision or mission statement that defines a clearly expressed goal that will govern your employees’ actions
- A set of values that form the basis of your culture
- A set of messages relating to those goals and values
- A set of rules to abide by
Just as with marketing to your clients, corporate culture messages should be communicated and marketed to your employees via internal communications channels.
Defining your corporate culture gives employees clarity, direction and expectations, which all facilitate engagement.
2. Put your culture into practice.
If your corporate culture contradicts what you’re trying to convey, your communication will be useless. Words must be backed up by action.
For a healthy culture to take root, the “right” behaviors and attitudes must be nurtured. This requires a coordinated team effort from human resources, internal communications and top management. It might also require a shift in the way you evaluate employee performance.
For instance, incorporating desired behaviors and attitudes into your performance reviews helps show that your culture is not mere lip service. Investing in employee training and development is another way to demonstrate your commitment to creating a culture that values workers.
Instead of clamping down on social media, cultivate platforms where positive interactions can take place. That might be your intranet, a chat app or a private social media group. Whatever it is, encourage managers and workers to actively praise colleagues for a job well done. Take special care to involve and uplift remote workers.
It’s impossible to prevent staff from browsing the web, so you might as well use connectivity to your advantage. The trick is getting everyone to communicate on the same page or platform.
3. Recruit the right people.
A culture is like a lump of clay. Every person you hire has a hand in shaping it.
So, make sure to recruit people who are a natural fit with your desired values. You can teach digital marketing skills, for instance, but it’s much harder to train someone to be empathetic.
Of course, it’s impossible to predict behavior, but try to determine whether candidates seem aligned with the culture you’re trying to create. Your cultural standards and expectations should be crystal clear throughout the recruiting process.
4. Mold your recruits.
Finally, onboard and train your newcomers in the corporate culture that you wish to create or maintain. Don’t just leave it to chance or see whether new employees pick it up on their own. Set them up for success by clearly communicating expectations and objectives from day one.
When all your employees understand the values, behaviors and attitudes that are expected of them, you set the stage for meaningful engagement, higher productivity and more substantial success. That’s what having a healthy culture is all about.
A version of this post first appeared on the eXo Platform blog.