There’s no easy formula to fixing all cultural problems because each workplace is unique. Some teams will thrive in a highly centralized environment, while others will reach new heights through delegated decision-making. One thing is certain -- successful teams all have one thing in common: their people work well together.
That is the ultimate goal of culture: to help people work well together. People work well together when they trust one another, care about one another’s success, and appreciate one another for who they are. To improve your culture you need to establish trust, invest in your employees, and strive for diversity.
Trust is essential to building a great culture. Employees find it hard to trust their employer if they don’t believe that their employer cares about their well-being and personal success. Employers are less likely to trust their employees if they don't believe employees buy into the mission and vision of the company. Some employers are even hesitant to train their workers because they’re worried that the employees will take the additional knowledge and skills to a competitor.
When people distrust one another, they keep things back and don’t collaborate as well as they could. Building trust takes time, but there are some proven ways to get started:
- When communicating with employees, be honest and open. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
- Don’t keep employees guessing about how they’re doing. Offer praise and address problems right way.
- Be accountable and follow through on your policies. This is especially important when it comes to issues like harassment.
- Admit your mistakes. Employees are more likely to take responsibly for their goofs if you’ve set the example that admitting mistakes is okay because it helps people to do better.
- Show trust in your employees. If you want trust, you have to show trust. One way to show you trust your employees is to invest in them with training and resources.
Help Your Employees Flourish
A workplace can contribute to its community by empowering the people who work there to seek their full potential. A workplace can be a place where people learn and master new skills, gain valuable life experience, form meaningful relationships, connect with the wider community, find meaning in their work, and contribute to the common good.
If you want to grow as a company, help your employees grow as individuals. Create a place where respect, empathy, and kindness are prized values. And remember that when you create rules and traditions, these rules and traditions are good in so far as they help people succeed. There’s an old saying that goes like this—"People don’t exist for the sake of rules; rules exist for the sake of people.” Your rules and traditions should make the interactions in your workplace more effective, productive, meaningful, and fulfilling.
Strive for Diversity
Look for people who will contribute to your culture and not just fit with it. Cultural fit is important in the sense that you don’t want people who will sabotage your culture or stifle your success, but every culture can be improved. Your ideal candidates will be those who buy into the core principles of your culture, but also bring unique backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas to the workplace.
A diverse and inclusive company is also a more welcoming place for people to work and spend a good portion of their lives. When people are valued for who they are and for what they have to bring, they’re more likely to inspired and engaged. But when people face bias, prejudice, or discrimination in the workplace, they are—predictably—less happy, less involved in the community, and less inclined to stay. Work to ensure that acceptance and openness to new kinds of people and new ideas are part of your culture and that your rules and traditions indicate that you practice what you preach.