The term “culture” has exploded into the spotlight in the world of business, becoming a buzzword for entrepreneurs, leaders, executives and HR professionals around the world. But, despite the word’s growing popularity, and the absolute fact that there is always a culture more often disliked than liked, there is a lot of mystery around the “how” in terms of creating it. While everyone wants a great culture at work, few know, or are willing to learn, how to make one.
Yes, there are a myriad of possibilities when it comes to getting started. Yes, there are several iconic examples of businesses that have successfully made great company cultures. And, yes, they all look different.
Look a little closer, however, and you start to see that there is something at the core of each awesome company culture: engagement.
Great culture begins with great engagement because, as the word “culture” implies itself, it is all about bringing people together on the basis of common values. If you take a moment to think about cultures around the world, you can start to see this definition in action, which will perhaps give you a jumping off place for you to begin creating your own type of business culture.
If engaging people, employees and customers, is the cornerstone of culture in organizations, these ideas below are great principles to follow:
- Be open with your communication. People in leadership positions must foster an environment that believes in open communication. While most leaders feel like it’s their duty to talk, the best know that the opposite is true; listening is critical. And while many people managers don’t like bad news as it may jeopardize their position, a true leader has time for all kinds of communication: good and bad.
- Encourage personal growth and development in the people around you. Investing in others is a sure sign of positive leadership. Take time and resources to encourage the people you interact with to follow their dreams, improve their skills, or find a new way to enjoy their days. Even a simple conversation about hobbies or an acknowledgement of someone’s skills can make a world of difference. Find time to compliment someone you work or live with, rather than always expecting your work to be praised.
- Let everyone in on the big picture. Don’t feel like “upper-level” strategies and ideas are only for “upper-level” employees, or parents. You can create a positive engaging environment that people are excited to be a part of by showing everyone where you are – and where you are going.
- Give people something to look forward to. Work is difficult and all of your colleagues do a lot of it, showing up each day and giving you access to their knowledge, skills and time whilst managing their work-life balance or at least trying to. Ask yourself how you can add elements of fun to your work culture. It can be something as simple as bringing a surprise for everyone at a weekly meeting or as awesome as planning a company retreat. The same applies for your private life. No better way to get the family spirit up than to do something fun or to enjoy that dream vacation together.
- Walk the talk. Culture is created by people by doing and by doing only. You can write principles or guidelines down on posters so that it can be read in the elevator on the way up or you can put them on your intranet site, but people will not change their habits by reading only. So, if one of the corporate values is pro-activity and the leadership team really would like to see “proactive behavior” institutionalized and practiced, managers and their teams, as a group and individually, will have to talk about it, translate it into actionable steps and start walking the walk.
Engagement is the cornerstone of any culture of which people voluntary would like to be part of. Everyone can show leadership when it comes to practicing the cultural values of the organization you’re part of, just start doing it. And when you do, do it with a winner’s attitude, it’s really so much more convincing and effective!