Culture is how things get done in an organization. That's why it's
critically important to get right. More entrepreneurs are realizing this
and making great strides in
building high-performance cultures. They're finding it's easier to manage for the culture you want when most
of your employees are in one place.
All the flexibility in today's business structures poses some unique
challenges. What about your dispersed employees working in the field, at
home and in satellite offices? How can you keep them engaged?
Not surprisingly, instilling corporate culture in employees outside
headquarters requires a blend of high-tech communication and personal
Want better employee engagement? Learn from brands like Gallup, Yahoo,
Denver Water, Hamilton Health Sciences and Blinds.com.]
1. Use technology.
Technology is a convenient way to continuously emphasize culture and
corporate vision. Both are crucial to get your entire team on the same
page. Technology also is a means to encourage employees to collaborate
across distances and organizational boundaries. Video, email, conference
calls, instant messaging, collaboration software and other technologies are
necessary tools in your arsenal.
Phil Nardone, president and CEO of integrated marketing and PR agency
PAN Communications, recommends several technologies to keep remote workers involved in the
“We are living in a virtual age where face-to-face communication can occur
anywhere at any time, with tools like Zoom and Skype for Business making it
easier and faster to form trusting relationships with coworkers,” Nardone
says. “In a cross-office environment, use virtual staff meetings to
announce prevalent company information to everyone at once and utilize
communication dashboards such as Namely (the HR platform), for daily
updates. At PAN, our weekly happy hours are hosted via videoconferencing
tools, and employees stay connected by sharing the PAN Snapchat password to
snap daily happenings in our office locations.”
5 High-Tech Tools to Benefit Remote Workers
Gene Austin, CEO of Bazaarvoice, also
uses videoconferencing to unite global employees across his smart network
of consumers, brands and retailers.
“We utilize videoconferencing technology on a daily basis, and not just for
day-to-day meetings with our remote colleagues,” Austin says. “We host a
global staff meeting for the entire company every other week that all of
our remote offices access via video technology. We extend many of our
company traditions beyond our headquarters as well. For example, during
these staff meetings, we highlight major workplace successes, introduce new
hires at every office location and celebrate milestone anniversaries over
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2. Get face to face.
While technology is indispensable, there's no substitute for in-person
interactions. Taking the time to travel to employee offices for
face-to-face meetings can build credibility, camaraderie and engagement.
Shawn Jenkins, CEO of cloud-based benefits management software Benefitfocus,
leads personal-culture sessions each year with his staff. “We did a summer
of culture last year. We had over 40 meetings in different offices in
groups of 40 to 50 people, max. We just talked about culture like a family.
You could do that in one big video or a speech at a conference, but I find
even if it takes you 40 meetings versus 1, that personal interaction helps
me learn and listen and see what’s important.”
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You also can manage by walking around. It's a great way to get to know your
employees, hear their ideas and learn about small issues before they
escalate and become bigger ones. People want to like their leaders, but
they can do that only if they have some personal connection. Spending time
with your employees in informal settings will do much to drive this
Bazaarvoice CEO Austin stresses the entire leadership team must be
available and visible to the whole company. His executive team goes on an
annual “road show,” traveling to each location to share business updates
and answer employee questions.
This Office Has a Bar -- But Staff Don't Go There Just to Drink
3. Write often.
Sharing your thoughts in writing is another way to align the team with your
vision and build trust. Benefitfocus CEO Jenkins writes regular emails and
blogs for his employee audience. Social media can be an outlet, as well. A
quick Twitter tweet or Facebook post can help employees feel more informed
in an immediate and up-to-date fashion.
In the article,
“Why CEOs Need Social Media,”
global communications marketing firm Edelman recommends four types of
Posts on company culture
Employee spotlights and profiles
Personal aspects of your life
Industry insights and advice
5 Lessons to Learn from T-Mobile CEO John Legere
Culture is a social construct, not a process that can be engineered or a
spreadsheet that can be analyzed. It takes a lot of work, but actively
reinforcing culture among your remote employees builds a more connected and
See how businesses of all sizes are getting culture right:
Joel Trammell is CEO of Khorus, which provides business
management software for executives. He is chair emeritus of the
Austin Technology Council and managing partner of private
equity firm Lone Rock Technology Group. A version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.
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