Companies can sink or swim based on their workplace culture. Contrary to what many might think, positive workplace culture is an incredibly good way to give your business that ever-elusive sustainable competitive edge. It’s something your competitors can’t touch no matter how hard they try. Its virtues may not be obvious to the busy executive’s naked eye, but upon closer inspection – the benefits of great (and the costs of bad) culture are palpable, predictable and quantifiable (churn, hours etc). Creating a great workplace culture has to be implemented by the CEO.
Why? It is too important to be delegated and assigned to someone else. Over our short but impactful time as a business helping companies find and manage great people to deliver projects, Expert360 has focused on creating a positive, friendly, empowering and supportive culture.
If you feel like you’re losing touch with your staff, you probably are. I’ve been there. As a CEO, you often balance hustling sales, meeting clients, striking up and closing deals alongside motivating, mentoring, fostering creativity, and psyching up the team to live the vision. There is no Golden Ratio to good workplace culture and merely acknowledging the precarious balancing act is the battle half won. One thing is for sure: if you’re a CEO, you’re also the Chief Culture Officer.
A Culture Refresh
The term “TGIF” (Thank God it’s Friday) is increasingly commonplace in corporate vernacular and I also hear it at a number of start-ups and small businesses. I sometimes even see it on corporate tweets. It irks me a bit. To succeed as a small and medium business, in particular, you’ve got to turn the status quo on its head and ask a lot of your team.
To create an exceptional company culture, rather than being an employee working IN a company, people should feel that work is a place where together they work ON an idea and vision. Instead of aiming for TGIF, you should aim for Thank God it’s Monday. Here is a list of 6 easy steps for introducing, building and maintaining a great workplace culture:
1. Celebrate success and praise excellence - Acknowledge big wins and landmark achievements. When you’re doing well and going at the speed of light, you sometimes take success for granted and focus on the areas for improvement. (Guilty). Reward excellence. Non-monetary rewards like cakes, cards, public recognition on social media or personal notes are in my opinion, the most effective of all.
2. Show, not tell - As CEO, start the change with enforcing management that doesn’t shy from rolling up sleeves and doing the dirty work. Personally, advise new employees or staff members who come to you for guidance.
3. Get to know people – It only takes a coffee and a genuine, open, honest conversation to understand what is important to someone, where they’re trying to get to – personally or professionally – in that week, in a year or in their lifetime. Understand it and nurture it and you will never look back. I would say try to talk over lunch or breaks but often it’s best to just step out of the office.
4. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy - Embrace fun; weekly lunches, ping-pong/billiard comps, ongoing friendly jokes/banter, celebrating employee birthdays. It takes the edge off stressful situations, helps team members to see that they’re all just humans doing their best to succeed, fostering respect and empathy.
5. Get the right people in the right roles - Choose the right set of passionate and committed staff and set realistic goals that tap into their strengths. Employees would be happier working if they have the contentment of nailing their jobs. Obviously, it also makes good business sense as you get better leverage and better outcomes but often you get your team to stretch to cover gaps, pick up the slack – ensure it’s short-lived and get people back to what they’re good at and love. If you don’t do this, it will drain morale, motivation and satisfaction, which is contagious and culture-crushing.
6. Treasure your Brand - Bringing culture boils down to creating a company that not only adds value to its employees’ work but also induces a sense of pride in them. If you are proud of your brand image, ensure employees to love and respect the company they are working for. Emphasize how much the brand means to you and what you expect of it.