Many people and organisations seem to think that great company culture is determined by whether a group of employees get along on a personal level or not, which couldn’t be further from reality. A company’s culture is characterised by a range of common attributes, internal processes and employee behaviours that are well aligned with the broader organisational goals. Unfortunately, too many people shy away from this topic with strong opinions that culture can’t be changed or influenced. As a result, they chose not to invest any time into it, despite all evidence supporting that when managed well, culture can be an incredibly powerful and competitive advantage to any organisation.

It’s no shock to any good leader that an unhappy employee won’t do more than they have to, great workers who don’t feel appreciated will leave, and poor management can have a negative impact on an entire team’s performance. Organisations with mismanaged company culture are likely to experience an average of 48% company turnover, while other organisations who have consciously maintained a rich and fulfilling environment for their employees, experience an average of only 14% turnover. Creating and maintaining good company culture isn’t just about employees being happy to show up to work every day. It’s imperative to individual performance and the performance of the company, retention of good people and attraction of new talent, it can impact your brands reputation and inspire new ideas and growth, the list could go on forever.

Sure, work lunches, company events and general team moral are all important too, however, these things aren’t enough on their own. High performing culture is not about being mates. It’s about having aligned values, inspiring and pushing each other to achieve a common goal, and reaching individual goals along the way. It’s about lifting each other up during down times and celebrating wins together during better times, and the single most important behaviours (in my opinion) a team with a winning culture will cross coach, share ideas, and help each other improve, no matter their level of experience. Being friends is just a bonus, the real foundations are made up of many key attributes, here are just a few of them.

Strong leadership

Culture typically starts at the top and leaders set the bar for performance through their own behaviour and results. Those who lead from the front, achieving challenging goals and demonstrating how to overcome obstacles will get a lot more out of their teams than those who have adapted a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality. Agreeing on a shared direction, always sharing knowledge, and helping each other develop a ‘can do’ sense of personal accountability will go far. 

Empowered employees

Organisations with great culture make sure their teams have the necessary skills and knowledge to use good judgment when making business decisions. They are transparent about their direction and are invested in the growth of their people.

Talent Acquisition

While it’s not about having a desire to socialise with each other, who you hire is still very important. Hiring people whose strengths compliment your current teams’ weaknesses will create an alliance and a sense of purpose between colleagues. On the flip side of that, hiring rude or arrogant people and allowing them to get away with unacceptable behaviour could be very costly to an organisations culture, no matter how established it was before. People feed off energy and over time, we all become a product of our environment to some degree. A positive atmosphere is just as contagious as negative one. Choose wisely.

Continuous learning and development

High-performing organisations know that people need to continually update their skills and knowledge to sustain long-term performance. They implement training that promotes idea generation and they continuously improve at a faster pace than their competitors. You don’t have to go buying all of the off the shelf training material you can find, and watch or listen to the same advice, in different words over and over again. One of the most accessible sources of training is your own top performers, share recent success stories and wins with each other, along with the steps that were taken to achieve the result. It’s simple, effective, motivating and free.    

Many candidates in the market deem culture as a critical factor when deciding where they apply for jobs. It then determines how happy they are in the role and ultimately, how long they stay.

Leading a successful culture-change program could be the most valuable thing you do for your business, no matter what industry you’re in. If you’re experiencing high turnover, underwhelming performance or just don’t know where to start when it comes to measuring your current culture state, have a chat with our consulting team today.  

To learn more about company culture, check out our previous blog, “We have a great culture, but…”

Madeline Gunner – Consultant

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