Turnaround Your Organization's Culture in Five Simple Steps

Is your organization's culture positive? Is it cut-throat?

Organizational culture is often treated as an afterthought. Either you have a good one or a bad one naturally, right? Wrong. Like any key relationships (i.e. marriage, parenting) the best ones don't just evolve organically -- they require intentionality.  Yet, as critical as it is, the culture of organizations is rarely prioritized. I have to remind leaders that it's every bit as important and malleable as your business strategy or your core product/service. If you want a workforce that's motivated and empowered, you need to view your culture as a key business driver. Here’s how you can do that:

Encourage your team to socially connect at work

Positive social connections at work result in less mental and physical illness, faster learning, and better performance on the job. Some basic approaches to improving the social dynamics in your workplace include:

  • volunteering together to help others
  • regularly eating lunch as a team
  • celebrating milestones

 Communicate regularly

Secrecy and rumors may work for Apple, but for most organizations, it creates dysfunction and distrust. It can be illuminating and highly motivating for employees to know what's going on in all areas of the organization. Leaders need to set the standard by sharing what's on their mind on a regular basis - a company "town hall" or end-of-month update will do the trick. Team leaders should be encouraged to facilitate discussion about the organization in smaller groups.

Be clear about the vision

Ask your colleagues if they can explain the vision of your organization. Many leaders are surprised by how many employees can't articulate it clearly. Take the time to communicate the vision clearly in a forum that encourages questions and conversation. People frequently cite the 'why' behind their work as a key driver of motivation, commonly rating it as more important than money. Employees who believe in what they do will be more satisfied and more productive.

Be human

Expressing empathy can go a long way toward gaining employee loyalty. It feels good to work with people who we care about and who care about us. Lead by example—spend time asking your employees about non-work interests and actually listen to their answers. If someone has a sick family member or another issue on their mind, don't brush it aside or avoid the topic, pull them aside and ask if there is anything you can do to help.

 Hire the right mix of personalities

All companies need talented employees. However, many hiring managers dismiss the benefits of strong soft skills in pursuit of skill. In some cases you'll have no choice but to overlook awkward personality traits because of the allure of pure intellectual horsepower, however, there shouldn't be a need to do this too often. Don't let rude people through the door without justification. Employees with high emotional intelligence will do wonders for morale and can underpin a positive working environment.

 While this list isn't all-inclusive, it can be the start of a major transformation in your organization's culture.

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