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Here’s why you need to create a strong culture within your organization

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Culture eats strategy for breakfast, or so the saying goes. For me, culture is as important as clear direction, and more important than strategy – minus all the food involved.



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Let’s take a moment to define what a work culture is, so we’re on the same page from now on in this article.

Work culture is a broad, all-encompassing term that includes many elements, including beliefs, values, behaviors, stories, and “how we do things here” statements. Additionally, a good workplace culture recognizes the need for employees to be valued, belong, and be heard, regardless of their position or background.

I know the word “culture” in organizations has become a buzzword, trending to use and inject into communications and presentations. But when I hear that word, a story quickly comes to mind that demonstrates how a healthy work culture benefits both the employer and the employees.

During a visit to the NASA Space Center in 1962, US President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his visit, walked over to the man, said hello, then asked him what he was doing there. The janitor replied, “I’m helping get a man to the moon, Mr. President.”

Now this man knew his purpose, his goal, and he was able to contribute to the larger goal of his organization. You don’t get that clear purpose, shared vision, and commitment without a clear and inviting culture. A clear and well-articulated culture, loved and modeled in any organization, therefore plays a central role in how employees perceive the company they work for.

In my experience, people like to associate with companies that are committed to taking care of their employees. This in turn becomes a decisive factor in attracting and retaining talent. I remember whenever I felt good about my job, I would do a little extra, because I knew what I was doing mattered, would be appreciated. I also felt that I had been given ownership of everything I did or led.

If I were to experience a culture (i.e. environment) of fear and micromanagement, I would only do what I am told to do in my job description, and nothing more, for two very simple reasons: I would be afraid of doing the wrong thing and be reprimanded for it, and I would not receive any credit or appreciation for any extra work. So why bother?

I am a strong proponent of trust in any relationship. If you don’t trust, you have a fragile, awkward, and unsustainable relationship, with a mediocre outcome at best. The culture is also built on trust. “I hope you do the right thing”, “I hope you do your job to the best of your abilities”, “I hope you deliver the job on time”, all without all the records, scrutiny and “over your shoulder” supervision. If you feel trustworthy, the responsibility lies with you to deliver and maintain that trust. As Andrew Mason famously said, “Hire great people and give them the freedom to be great.”

Now, some of you might be thinking: what’s the point of having an amazing, award-winning work culture, but a failing or stagnant company? Let me answer with this note: for a company to have a working culture in place, it must have a clear understanding of its basics: product, vision, strategy and customers. If you don’t have that and are only focused on creating a carefree, inclusive and empathetic culture, then I suggest we call it something else, like, say, “a culture club”, “a non- for-profit community club,” not a business.

Your workplace is a business, after all; one who is supposed to make profit/money. If your workplace hasn’t laid the foundation for a scalable and successful business, to be able to pay your salary on time for a long time, then I don’t know why you’re here! Kill time, meet new people or try a new hobby. Most importantly, a positive work culture will take care of your customer – the guy who Actually pays the bills. If you have miserable, disengaged employees, it will be noticed immediately by your customer, who will be reluctant to respect you or come back.

Finally, a work culture is built by people and for people in any organization, and the way a work culture comes to life is usually through positive stories. Stories told by colleagues in private calls, around water coolers, or at company events, of how a manager acted protectively and supportively of his team in a specific situation, or how management plans to introduce a policy that will allow employees to spend more time with their families, and the many similar stories, anecdotes or memes that are shared within the company to maintain it alive and refueling this much-desired culture.

Related: Building an Organization with a Strong Company Culture: How to

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Post expires at 8:41am on Sunday December 4th, 2022