What is company culture and why is it important?
A definition of culture as listed by Merriam-Webster is, “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.”
A company’s culture encompasses the work environment, the way employees interact with one another, and the values and goals the team strives to reach. The kind of culture you have can influence your employee retention, your reputation, and your overall productivity.
Great culture requires intentionality
If you don’t actively foster a culture within your team, it’s going to happen one way or another. But without some intentionality, it could easily head a direction that doesn’t serve your vision. Picture what you want. It’s probably an environment where everyone is a team player, people are motivated to work hard, and loyalty and trust are held in high regard.
So how do you get there?
Hire the right people
Don’t just look for talent. Hire people that will readily uphold your company values and vision. Look for people that will complement your weaknesses and bring something fresh to the team. A teachable attitude and a team-oriented spirit will take your business to the next level.
Creating a unified team does not mean you only hire people that are little replicas of yourself. The beauty of the team is in the unique experience, talents, and personalities that each person brings to the table. Take time to discover and celebrate the strengths of each of your employees. Consider having your employees take a strengths test such as the Clifton Strengthsfinder and go over the results together.
Identify core values
Identify your core values and make sure every member of the team knows them well. Make these values consistent in every aspect of your business. If you value honesty, don’t just limit it to honesty with your customers. Value honesty with your management team, between coworkers, with your suppliers …and even the guy that restocks the vending machines. No aspect of your business is too small or too large to fall in line with your core values.
It’s hard to take the next step if you don’t know the destination. Make sure your employees know your vision. Share it loudly; share it often. If your team knows your end goals, it will better equip them to solve problems and make decisions.
Are your team members happy to take the credit and quick to pass the blame? Work to change this by clearly communicating that teamwork and collaboration are expected of everyone. Model it within your management team. Recognize and reward collaborative achievements.
Share the wins
Did you book a record number of tickets last month? Did a happy customer send you an email praising your customer service department? Share the wins, big and small, in your team meetings. This is an incredible motivator to pursue excellence. It lets your employees know that what they do is seen and valued.
Include your customers
Every client that buys from you should get a small taste of your company culture each time they make a purchase. This can be achieved by adding the “surprise and delight” factor to various moments during the buyer journey. It could be as simple as sending a handwritten note or as lavish as a free upgrade to a loyal client.
Spruce up your space
Take a look around your office space. Is it grey and drab? Is artwork and signage nonexistent? Do you have any common areas for employees to connect over a coffee or lunch? Maybe it’s time to update your work space a little! You don’t have to break your budget to make a difference in your environment. Post signage with your company values. Put a few modern, stylish lamps in the corners to add some warmth. Add a few canvas prints of common destinations you book for your travelers — you can’t go wrong with a beautiful beach print or a foreign city skyline!
Bring in donuts for breakfast, go to lunch together, or take the office to a local travel trade show. Have some shared experiences that are completely unrelated to your work. The team that can have fun together is much more willing to help each other out and share the burden on the tough days.
More than a job
In the past a job was a way to earn a living — it was simply a means to a paycheck and benefits. Today’s job-seekers are looking for much more. They want to find meaning in everything they do. They want to genuinely enjoy their team, and not just “put up with” the person at the next desk over. If you take the time to cultivate the right culture and hire employees that support your vision, your business will flourish!