When I first started working out of college, I had a moment where I started to understand my job as being more than just a paycheck. As soon as I saw the idea of “culture” being developed in my organisation, I knew I had to be involved. I had my dream: I was going to create a culture that would be highly rewarding, exciting, and innovative.
I felt that my job was to help my company develop an ecosystem for our brand, our culture, and our team members to thrive and contribute. My mission was to make the team of “culture” understand and respect our values, to cultivate friendship for the team, and to make our company accessible; it would also enhance the team.
Over the next few years, in every job I’ve had, I have worked tirelessly, at times through many layers of layers, trying to get a good picture of culture in my organisation to better understand and apply lessons and ideas. I have had to understand the culture, to help people understand our culture, to make our culture more engaging, interactive, creative, and enjoyable, and, to support our culture through good communication, positive feedback, and by having fun.
I have been determined to create and share a culture without borders for all our people as a team.
Ultimately, I’m the one who has to work in this company. And if I just sit around and expect the founders to magic up some culture without my input, without my care and compassion and involvement and without my effort, that’s not going to be fair on them, fair on my co-workers or successful for me, personally.
And that’s what being a part of a growing company is all about: Taking an active part in the culture.
I don’t think company culture can come from just the activities your boss organises, or a mundane “casual friday” or a string of fancy sounding words. It comes from the individual people who are empowered enough to care about the culture and make it their own, whether that’s through organising, spending quality time, or just working with each other to reach for something better and bigger.
1. People need to have the ability to do this.
The one thing founders and business owners and managers have to do is actually give their staff the ability to be involved with the culture. Give them the opportunity to come up with parts of it and evolve it. You have to look at a company’s culture as a patchwork blanket, and allow new folks to sew themselves and their values and ideas into the fabric alongside yours. Do your people have the budget to organise company events? Do they have the freedom and flexibility to spend time on culture? Do they have resources? All of these are going to make a difference.
2. People need to *know* they have the ability to do it
It’s one thing to say that people in your company can impact the culture, can access your benefits, can be a positive and pro-active part of the organisation and can stand up and be counted. But do they know it? So many companies seem to wind up with benefits, culture and policies that people aren’t even aware of, that people can’t take advantage of because they’ve never even been told they exist.
If you can communicate to your folks that you walk the walk, and that they have the real and tangible chance to impact and shape the culture, that will allow them to be the change makers themselves. And you can’t just say it once; you have to be prepared to say it over and over again!
3. People need to know that you see the ROI
Your culture is not going to be healthy if your staff think that you don’t understand the win that an amazing culture actually represents.
If your staff think that your ROI focus is on productivity alone, profitability alone, they won’t believe that you’re serious about creating an incredible culture, and so they won’t want to take part in it. The right people for the jobs you’re offering are people who care about the same goals as you, and where they sense that you don’t have a serious culture goal, they will follow your lead. What’s the ROI on a culture? It’s your staff’s health. Happiness. Dedication. Longevity. Positivity. Belief in the mission and vision.
Believe me, all of those things will flow into having a hugely positive impact on the bottom line, but you have to look at culture as being such a huge win even beyond that. That’s the real opportunity.
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