What is a “workplace culture”?
Corporate culture or company culture is often perceived as nebulous, seen as hard to define where it begins and ends.
But get it right and it’s a perfect combination of the people and their emotional and organisational effectiveness.
Almost always in smaller businesses, and to a degree in larger businesses too, a lot of the culture is derived from the values of the founder.
The advantage of having a strong company culture is that colleagues should know what is expected of them and it gives them a default to return to when making challenging decisions.
Values and culture are in effect two sides of the same coin. The values you express reflect your culture and your culture reflects the values you have identified.
Culture eats strategy for breakfast – Peter Drucker
You can set out any vision you like as a leader, but unless you have that culture where people actively want to support that vision as soon as you hit a bump in the road the wheels will fall off.
If you have the culture right then you can ride those bumps, and people will stick with you and find ways to get around problems and hurdles as they go along.
The keys to creating a culture
When it comes to culture and value, how do avoid letting people pay only lip service? There is a number of things in my opinion:
- Recruitment – making sure you bring people on who fit with your company culture. I think at least 2 if not 3 people should be involved in the interview process. So that you can talk about the candidate in relation to those values and whether you think they will fit with them
- Induction/on-boarding – make sure during someone’s training you articulate your values and explain how that translates into behaviour
- Reviews – You should include as part of a colleagues reviews an assessment of how they have been ascertaining to the company values
- Set an example – As a leader, it is absolutely vital that you set an example of yourself to how everyone else should follow the company values. You don’t want to let people think that your values don’t apply when things get difficult, because that is when they apply the most.
- Communication – In all areas of business communication is key and it’s imperative when getting across to all employees, not just new ones, how you wish them to act.
What did we do?
In our case, we deliberately set out to nurture our culture by asking our colleagues and our clients what they thought our values were and what they should be.
We ended up consolidating over 100 ideas into 4 core values for the company.
Our values at JudgeService are centred around customers, team, innovation, and integrity.
It’s all well and good saying that, but they mean nothing if you don’t act on them and drive them into your business practice. Driving behaviour around values makes them come to life.
Your values have to be things that people genuinely believe are true otherwise they won’t work. Without people believing in your values and demonstrating them, your business will not perform in the way you expect.
Something I have found interesting recently is the idea that offices will become less populated, for example, HSBC are planning on reducing their office space by 40%.
I personally think it is very difficult to create a strong culture without the social interaction an office space offers. A place to work collaboratively, develop friendships, nurture impromptu responses to situations. Those elements are lost when everyone is working solely remotely.
I think a lot of businesses have traded on the capital of goodwill that was built up before the pandemic as we have been working from home. I have also seen in our business, and in others, where people have recruited new employees and they have had to work remotely during the pandemic, they haven’t engaged well with the business. They don’t make that cohesive bond with the rest of the team.
Culture is important because if you don’t maintain it people don’t know what is expected of them and therefore are less likely to deliver.
The more you articulate your values and continue to act on them, the more they become artefacts and a part of the history of the company of how things are done.
Ultimately, a strong business culture provides you with the padding you need against the bumps in the road, and never more so than when you’re in the midst of a global pandemic.
Did you enjoy this blog post? Browse below to read more from the “Lessons from Leaders” series!