Is your company culture falling short of your original vision? Do you wish your organization was more exciting to current staff and enticing for future employees?
Maybe you should do a little culture check-in.
Here’s a five-step self-assessment exercise you can use to gauge the status of your current culture and what kind of work it will take to get it where you want it to be.
Values are one of those ideas that might make some people roll their eyes. But a company without values is a company with no soul. And no consistency. Having clearly defined values will help guide your organizational decision-making and behaviors in the right direction.
Everyone has their own set of values they use to drive decision-making and behaviors. And regardless of how great your people are, if each person is using individual values to make decisions, you will create a disparate experience at best.
Questions to ask: Have we defined our values as an organization? Are they documented and accessible? How often do we talk about them with the team? Does everyone understand what they are, why they’re important, and how to make decisions based on them?
Owners and leaders need to have a detailed (and united!) vision of the company they strive to be. This is especially true during times of crisis and/or change. A vision isn’t a pretty statement to be framed and hung on the wall but a detailed description of the resources, skills, behaviors, and results necessary for success.
But simply having a vision isn’t enough. There must also be a plan to achieve it. And everyone needs to understand the vision and the plan to create the culture reality.
Questions to ask: What do we want our company to look like in three years? Have we documented this? What is our plan for executing these ideas? How are we communicating it to our team? Is everyone actively participating in helping achieve the vision? How often are we returning to review our plans?
People will usually perform to the level of expectations you have for them. If you set mediocre standards, you’ll get mediocre results. But when you regularly work with people to strive for improvement and offer consistent coaching and mentoring, their level of performance will consistently rise. Look at your expectations and accountability levels and where they need to be.
Questions to ask: How are we managing the performance of each person on our team? What processes have we established? How consistently are we using our processes to help our team members improve their roles? Have we clearly defined roles and expectations? How are we measuring success and holding people accountable? What resources are we providing our employees to help them stay accountable?
In high-performance organizations, having employees with the skills to innovate and lead is imperative. You can be on a merry-go-round of continuously hiring new people to fill in gaps you may have, or you take the time to identify the skills you need and train your current team to be prepared with new capabilities. One method will go a long way to developing a positive team culture. The other? Not so much.
Questions to ask: What training and/or personal development are we providing our team members? For leadership? What future areas have we identified where we will need improved or different skills from what we currently have? How are we working to uncover potential and develop inside talent?
When your employees truly believe in the sincerity of their leaders and trust your words and actions, the organizational culture you’ve built will be able to move and adapt more quickly. Organizations with high trust consistently outperform the competition because people don’t waste time questioning motivations and speculating about hidden agendas. Organizations with high trust also enjoy higher levels of employee engagement, productivity, and morale.
Questions to ask: What is the level of trust among our team? Do they trust each other? Their supervisors? Company leaders? Do departments work together or in silos? Does management trust their teams and empower them to take ownership of their work?
After the assessment
Depending on how you answered the above questions, you could have a little or a lot of work to do moving forward.
If your culture is mostly where you want it, look for ways to enhance and communicate what you already have. Complacency is the enemy of great culture. Ensure the vision and messages are clear and the commitment to them is evident.
If your culture seems less than stellar, it’s time to get to work. Culture starts at the top, and so should you. Get your leadership team together to define what values drive your organizational beliefs. Then decide how you’re going to live those values through your behaviors.
Once you’ve created the vision, start working on plans for communication and execution. This is one case where an outside expert can provide a lot of value. Being ingrained in your organization can color your vision and make these processes more difficult. Having a facilitator/mediator who can help you find clarity, stay focused, and keep things on track is also helpful.
If you’ve done the exercise and feel tempted to simply ignore any red flags, you’re not alone. Many businesses are doing exactly that, despite knowing they have issues. But believe it or not, this is the more difficult route. Over time, your culture will deteriorate to the point where it will require exponentially more work to dig yourself out. And that’s no fun for anyone.
Commit to creating the remarkable organization you envision. Your team, your business, and your customers will thank you for it.
Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
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