It Starts with People: How to Shape Company Culture

September 5, 2014 | By: Michelle archambault | 1 min read

Business people communicating with each other against white

It’s generally acknowledged among the business elite that your people are your most important asset. But what does that really mean?

Good business practices mean good people practices. Unfortunately, many businesses focus so much on the customer that they skip right past the other party inherently involved – the staff. Company culture is relegated to a committee add-on and employee well-being consists of some fliers passed around once a year.

But what if it was more than that?

Your company has a culture

…even if it was never defined. Company culture is simply the atmosphere of the workplace, the intangible sense of the brand’s personality applied in real life situations. If a ‘culture’ was never intentionally laid out, chances are it rose organically based on the founder’s personal values. While this is certainly not a bad thing, it unfortunately does not always scale well; once staff is outside of daily contact with the founder, the mood will be largely determined by other sources.

Culture is shaped by people

Hire not only for skill - hire for culture fit, especially in the early stages of a company. Those first staff members will likely be the decision makers down the line, and their practices will greatly influence daily interactions among employees.

Culture is shaped by values

“Respect.” “Value.” “Integrity.” Great, but it doesn’t stop there. Words are just words until real meaning is put behind them. How does your business apply respect in daily interactions? Respect, while a great value, is ambiguous and therefore useless unless it has a clear definition.

Respect: We recognize the inherent value of our staff and clients and will never settle for a win-lose situation.

It’s not too late

If your company culture is suffering, change can happen.

  • Start small. What things can you do today – yes, today – to improve your office? It might be passing out cupcakes. If might be sending an encouraging email. Start doing something small now, and do something bigger (Rethinking values? Adjusting hiring practices? Creating a culture club?).
  • Be on the ground. What’s talked about over lunch hour? If you don’t know, it’s time to jump in and find out. Seek to understand what employees value and welcome constructive input.
  • Encourage growth. A stale position can make even the best employees lose motivation, and even more importantly, a company is only as successful as the individuals who put in the hard work. Explore ways to help your staff grow as professionals and individuals. It’s worth it.

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