10 steps for building a positive company culture

It doesn’t matter if you are the leader of a large organisation or you have just hired your first employee, you’ll want your team to function efficiently and harmoniously. That’s a given. Yet, this doesn’t always eventuate and you may not even know why.

When you created your business plan, no doubt you looked at sales projections, target markets, key personnel, systems and processes and much more. But, how much time did you spend planning how the people would work together?

Nick Mitzevich - Art Gallery Director

Nick Mitzevich - Art Gallery Director

Maybe you didn’t see that as a high priority. Or, maybe you did, but you didn’t really know how to go about it. In either case, it is never too late to step back and start the process, as having a positive company culture can be the most influential factor in determining your organisation’s success.

In his leadership strategy article for Forbes, How To Build A Positive Company Culture, Alan Kohill outlined the benefits of actively fostering a strong company culture.

Recruitment. People want to work for companies with a good reputation from previous and current employees.

Employee loyalty. Employees are much more likely to stay with their current employer when they feel they are treated right and enjoy going to work every day.

Job satisfaction. Employers who invest in the well-being of their employees will be rewarded with happy, dedicated employees.

Collaboration. A positive culture facilitates social interaction, teamwork and open communication. This collaboration can lead to some amazing results.

Work performance. Employees tend to be more motivated and dedicated to employers who invest in their well-being and happiness.

Employee morale. Employees will naturally feel happier and enjoy their work more when they work in a positive environment.

Less stress. Companies with a strong corporate culture tend to see less stressed employees, which helps boost both employee health and work performance.

Define your personal vision

The first step is to work out what your visions are for your personal success and what your visions are for the organisation. These two must align for either to be achieved. For example, if you are driven by monetary success but you run a social enterprise, you’ll probably struggle to progress smoothly.

Nick Mitzevich is the Director of the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), following a long stint as the Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia. In his podcast interview on The Mentor List, he noted that his current position is a natural fit for a man who sees himself as a “bridge” between the artworks in his galleries and the people who appreciate them.

"I want to contribute to something that adds to the Australian community because my parents instilled that purposefulness, that service. That you shouldn't waste a moment and you should do what you can to make this country a better place.”

Communicate your organisational vision

Put your visions into words and take every opportunity to share them with everyone connected to your organisation. When others understand your purpose and can see its value, they are more likely to get behind you, especially if you need to make big changes. As Mitzevich said:

“People want to invest in things that they are passionate about. They want to be part of something that is successful. They want to be inside an organisation that makes a difference to people’s lives.”

Walk the talk

If you want others to be passionate about what they do, show them that you are passionate about what you do. Put your heart and soul into everything and lead by example.

Build trust

Do what you say you are going to do and do everything with integrity. Show others that it’s ok to follow your leadership as you won’t let them down and you will listen to them.

(For more on the topic of trust, see our article The Essential Leadership Skill That Often Gets Overlooked)

Engage everyone

Invite all your stakeholders to help shape your company culture. This could include everyone from your newest recruit to your customers and suppliers. Find out how they view the organisation now and what they think the strengths and weaknesses are.

Define company values and priorities as a team

One of the best ways to ensure that everyone understands and follows your cultural goals is to create a cultural charter together. This is a simple, but powerful, document that articulates an organisation’s cultural values. It is used to guide all decisions and strategic plans. When it is created by the people expected to use it, they gain a sense of ownership and are much more likely to be committed to following it.

Define your cultural expectations

To help formulate the points to include in your charter, work with your team to define which actions, attitudes and behaviours they see as positive and which they see as negative. Which attributes would they give priority to, say, when forming a multidisciplinary team? How would they expect people to work together?

Put your cultural charter in writing

All organisations have a culture, whether it has been formally defined or not. You might think your organisation has an innovative culture that thrives on change. Or maybe you see it as one that looks after small businesses or is environmentally friendly. But, is that reflected in all your activities? Could your employees name your organisation’s values?

When you create your cultural charter, ensure it is put in writing and made visible and accessible to all.

Shout it from the rooftops

Many organisations display their charter in their boardroom or at reception. That’s fine, but it is not enough. You need to put it under people’s noses by including it in your publications and reading it aloud before all meetings. Send a copy to all your stakeholders and tell them how you implement it. Even put it on the home page of your website and make it a feature.

Make your charter a functional tool

The best tools are useless if they are left in a dusty drawer or hanging from a peg in your garage. They have no value until you actually pick them up and use them to create something. The same goes for your cultural charter. It needs to be used as a guide to help you translate your organisation's mission, vision and values into your daily actions. It can be used for everything from recruitment to consumer engagement and budget planning.

Finally, your charter should be reviewed regularly to check if it is still relevant and being adhered to. Even if things are going well, they can always be improved.

Is it time for you to review your organisation's culture?

Call to action…

Nick Mitzevich has built a reputation for connecting, opening and promoting interesting opportunities and ideas. He has worked with limited resources, limited funding and within tough climates but has mastered the art of bringing people together and making people stay.

In his podcast interview on The Mentor List, he shared many tips for creating organisational change and empowering people to take risks. Mitzevich also shared his strategies for tackling major projects. You can hear his engaging story by tuning into his episode today.

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au

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