A 5-step guide to building a healthy company culture

Your company culture reflects your organization and its values. If you want your workforce to thrive and succeed at their task, follow this 5-step guide to provide them with a healthy work environment and culture.

April 27, 2020
Darpan Keswani

Company culture is a direct representation of your workplace values and environment. Though culture isn’t tangible, you can get a grasp of it by analyzing employee behavior. An enthusiastic and driven workforce means you are doing great, while the opposite might be a sign to pay more attention to your company culture.

Where do you start, do you replace management, or is the root cause at the employee level? The truth is, it could be anything (from a clash in working styles to inter-departmental disagreements over processes) and on any level. As a leader, you can take specific steps to work towards a happier and healthier work environment.

Step 1: Accept responsibility

Reflect on your actions before you evaluate your team.

Were there instances when:

  • Was employee feedback dismissed without explanation?
  • Was new technology implemented without consulting the workforce?

Don’t underestimate this step, as you can show your employees you’re looking to solve problems instead of place blame. That would strengthen your leadership position, and make your team more receptive to your suggestions.

“Self-awareness and personal accountability are hallmarks of effective leadership. They are a signal to the team that leadership respects them enough to own and then fix the problem.”
— Shahnaz Broucek, Professor at the University of Michigan

Step 2: Get to the cause

Assessing your workforce after you’ve evaluated yourself will give you more clarity and help you look at things from an employee perspective.

The SCARF model consists of five questions to gauge areas of improvement:

Status – Do employees feel unfairly treated by their seniors because of specific processes?

Certainty – Are workers unknowingly holding critical information from others because of a lack of communication?

Autonomy – Are there employees who seem reluctant to work on team projects?

Relatedness – Do you have existing company traditions that make newer workers feel excluded?

Fairness – Are there decisions made without team input, transparency, or clear rationale?

“The impact of working in a chronically stressful environment not only leads to poor performing teams but can negatively impact the health of employees.”
– Robin Ross, Executive Coach, OptimizeU Leadership Coaching

Step 3: Listen

Collect as much information as possible before you start developing a turnaround plan.

To start, hold a company-wide meeting and encourage your employees to give their suggestions. You can also gather feedback from anonymous surveys to take the pressure off your staff. When everyone feels involved and accountable, your newly formed culture will have an immediate impact.

“When employees are invited into the problem-solving process, they create a shared language and feel ownership of the outcome, all of which ultimately leads to increased morale and productivity.”
— Shahnaz Broucek, Professor at the University of Michigan

Rebuild with best principles in mind, not just best practices. To put it simply, implement policies that build the culture you want. If you want the flexibility to be a core value, let employees attend meetings virtually instead of asking them to come to the office.

Step 4: Drop the dead-weight

Executing your turnaround plan is urgent, which means removing processes that don’t work is better than trying to tweak them. For example, if you know performance appraisal is a source of frustration for your employees, ask them what they would change about it and create a new process.

Step 5: Use the right technology to jumpstart your effort

It can get hard to focus on corporate culture when you have a business to run. With the right technology, you can speed up time-consuming processes and give yourself more space to put your plans into action. For example, digitizing your forms will allow you to respond to leave, or purchase requests right from your phone.

To optimize a more extensive process, like onboarding, create and store online training materials or video tutorials in a central repository that your teams can access anytime. Cultural issues mask underlying problems, so it’s important to dig deep and get to the root cause.

Rebuilding culture is a big undertaking, but well worth the effort. Work on it consistently, and you’ll notice that your employees are performing better, and your business is hitting targets it wasn’t able to before.

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