Business leaders talk about organizational culture a lot. When they do, they’re usually pointing out that it’s an important driver of business growth. Even if you’re not sure how exactly this plays out in real life, you get the idea that it’s indispensable for any company’s thriving.
Actually, it is extremely important. To get a sense of how crucial it is- and why your business really needs it- we’ll explain what it means.
Wikipedia defines organizational culture as that which “encompasses values and behaviours that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization”. In simple terms, it’s the collectively held beliefs and attitudes of people in a company (for example, your business), which determines what they are able to achieve as an organized unit.
This isn’t markedly different from our everyday understanding of the word “culture”. Just as you can tell an ethnic group by its culture, it’s expected that businesses should be differentiated by their organizational culture. Employees should also be united by the corporate culture of the company by which they’re employed, just as individuals in traditional societies are connected by a singular cultural heritage.
We’ve just described what ought to be the case within companies: a strong organizational culture, where everyone believes in the same values and works toward achieving the same ultimate aim. In reality, many businesses have a weak organizational culture, which means their employees don’t share common values and don’t have the same attitude toward achieving the company’s goals. They might not even know what the company’s goals are. As a result, the company either grows too slowly, stagnates, or eventually fails.
How to build a strong organizational culture
Perhaps you haven’t defined your business’s in-house culture. Maybe you have, but it’s not as effective as you would have hoped. Here, we’ve laid out five steps to fix this. Have a look.
- Outline your mission, vision and values
Your company’s mission and vision statements are the foundations of whatever culture you’re going to create for your business.
A mission statementis a short, clear explanation of what your company does.
A vision statement is a concise description of what you want your company to achieve in the medium to long-term.
Have these in place. Make sure they are written in language that is understandable and can be acted upon. Your mission statement should leave no one in doubt about what exactly your business is and does. Your vision statement should be good enough to inspire your team to action.
Besides these, teams also need a set of values to work by. Many people consider values such as integrity, efficiency, excellence and respect as important to their business’s success. However, it’s crucial that you rise above paying lip service to these values and let them mark your path to accomplishing your stated goals.
Many businesses do have mission and vision statements. But they use them like they are lines to be memorized by staff, or just plastered on their branded items. Don’t do this. Make your statements goals that your organization operates with on a daily basis.
- Identify your business’s needs
Maybe you do have a mission and a vision, with something resembling a culture built on them. But you could still be dissatisfied with the way things are at the moment.
It could be that your company has strayed from working with its foundational statements, in the way we described in step one above. Or the problem could be the way its administration is set up. Perhaps it could be with individuals or groups of persons within the organization who aren’t showing commitment to company principles. Find out what the problem spots are, and work out ways to fix them.
- Work to entrench the culture
It takes more than one person to make and sustain a culture. You’ll need to get your staff on the same page as yourself in your quest to implement a new way of thinking about and working toward achieving your business’s goals.
Your ability to communicate the company’s values and goals will greatly determine the success of your culture building project. This isn’t just about having employees learn mantras by heart. It’s about making a case for the organization’s aims, one that’s strong enough to make people enthusiastic about it.
You may inspire your team to work by doing these:
- Talk about the connection between the company’s goals and values and the team members’ specific tasks when there’s an occasion to do so.
- Tell stories that emphasize the importance of the organization’s values.
- Speak to them about what the future of the company would look like if they worked in line with the organization’s mission, vision and values.
Ultimately, the best way to communicate these things is to be an example that your team can emulate. When your approach to work matches with the things you espouse, your employees will understand that you’re invested in building the culture. They’ll be more likely to follow your lead.
- Implement unique rites
Cultures come with symbols and ceremonies which lets us identify them as distinct from others. These cultural relics also help bind individual members of cultures together and gives them a sense of distinct identity.
Corporate rites could also play a similar role for businesses. You may implement practices that become unique to your company, such as special words and phrases for specific processes and situations, formal induction ceremonies for new employees, conventions for recognizing exceptional performance by staff, and so on.
- Have the right hands to make it happen
You may have excellent plans, but they won’t work unless you have the personnel to bring them to life. It would be great if everyone on your team buys into your ideas, contributes theirs, and help to build a growth-spurring culture.
In reality, values differ, and cultures clash. Certain people don’t want to align themselves with the company’s vision. You should only hire persons who show that they understand the company’s values and are willing to work according to them.