Wednesday July 5, 2017
By Swathi Shridhar, Marketing Manager at Purple Cubed
Having a stand out, positive company culture provides a serious competitive advantage in this world of authenticity – for customers and team members alike. It sets the tone for everything that happens within an organisation. It defines the ‘how’; how your people behave, how your teams interact and how everyone in the business can be aligned to drive business success. It’s your DNA; ‘how we do things around here’; the non-negotiables.
Culture also has a strong influence on how people feel about their job and, subsequently, how engaged they are to want to contribute over and above the norm. Today’s employee wants to works for an organisation with meaning – this is why it's so important to define exactly what that is. This is just the tip of the iceberg though; once defined the challenging though vital part is to make sure it is firmly embedded and living in your business every day.
Maybe you know someone who has ‘an amazing job’ and works for an ‘aspirational’ company yet isn’t all that excited about their career? Their workplace may have all the bells and whistles – brand spanking office space, free lunch, subsidised gym memberships, napping pods – and yet it misses the mark in terms of being a ‘great place to work’ with that all important authenticity and meaning.
A company’s culture stems from its values, which, when aligned with those of the talent it employs, creates a firm bond between the two. It transcends the ‘perks’ and fosters loyalty, inspires contribution, builds ‘how to’ and creates a sense of belonging and that feeling of ‘loving what you do’. From a business perspective it also leads to people taking responsibility, using initiative, setting goals and striving for success.
At Purple Cubed, our own culture has been described as ‘tribal’; we work hard to preserve and evolve it. We know that whilst creating a culture that fosters engagement cannot be achieved overnight and will require long-term commitment from all levels of leadership, that the key to creating a culture that sticks is setting out clear values and embedding them (which is often the most challenging part). Here are a few of my favourite tips to help you embed your values:
Develop line-managers and leaders across the business to work with their teams to determine what each value means to them in the context of their particular role and how they plan to live by it. This can be done through a facilitated discussion around practical examples. So if one of your values is ‘achievement’, for one person it might be completing everything on the day’s schedule, for another it will be meeting target EBITDA.
Cultural change doesn’t happen unless leaders themselves model the behaviours and values that define the culture. The leaders in your business are best placed to act as role models; sharing the mission and purpose and bringing employees on-board, whilst building trust and removing barriers to enable employees to follow in their steps. It comes from the top.
Ensure communication is clear, frequent and two-way. This will help to keep everyone on the same page and builds a culture of trust and openness.
Incorporate your values into daily language so that desired behaviours are constantly reinforced. Use values in recruitment: expect every candidate to be familiar with them from their research. Ask prospective employees how they feel they could relate the values of the company to the role on offer. Look them in the eye and ask whether they can give 100% commitment to upholding these values.
As the saying goes, what gets measured gets done. And the same applies to values. Establishing what great outcomes ‘look like’ and incorporating values and their associated behaviours into the review cycle and performance management will reinforce the expectation of desired behaviours. This is also a great way to balance the review process with a combination of quantifiable goals. For example, a team member may be hitting all their targets but could need some work aligning to the values of the business, which may impact on teamwork or building relationships.
Above all, it’s vital to set clear expectations and stay true to your business values at all times. Over time, your people will become your greatest ambassadors keeping your culture alive and kicking…