Organizational culture affects each of us every day, yet it is intangible and difficult to define. Understanding this component of a workplace requires taking a step back and analyzing the different factors affecting organizational culture on a daily basis. No single person or group of people defines the culture where you work. Read on to see which areas of your business may have room for improvement when it comes to organizational culture.
What Is Organizational Culture — And Why Should You Care?
In order to improve, we first have to ask: What does company culture mean? All of the values, behaviors and processes that create a unique psychological environment contribute to organizational culture.
What feels like the norm to someone working who’s been working at your company for several years will feel novel to someone walking into your workplace for the first time. The way employees interact with each other, the pictures on the walls and even the clothes your team members wear are all ingredients in the organizational cultural mix.
Ignoring this part of the business is not a wise decision, as it affects your ability to attract, hire and retain talented employees. What’s more, organizational culture impacts the productivity of your team. If someone dreads going to work each day because the environment is negatively affecting their mood, the quality and efficiency of their work is sure to go down. It is essential to regularly take the pulse on your organizational culture and take steps to improve upon it.
Perhaps the single largest factor affecting organizational culture is leadership. The managers and executive team at your company have a massive impact on how the work environment feels and operates.
Leaders must be mindful about the rules they institute, the way they act around their subordinates and the processes they develop. An effective leader is never shortsighted about the actions they take — they must think about every person they are affecting with every decision. Even the decision to regularly provide constructive criticism, rather than simply shooting ideas down, can go a long way towards creating a healthier workplace environment.
2. The People You Hire
Of course, it’s not just the leadership team that has an impact on organizational culture, but the rest of the team as well. Coworkers often spend more time around each other than their personal group of friends, so the way they behave and interact with one another alters the ambiance of an office.
Encouraging coworker social events outside of work is a great way to get the team on the same page and develop a sense of unity. When the team gets to know each other on a personal level, they begin to understand one another’s personal strengths, passions and areas for improvement. There is a big difference between a workplace where the team gets along with each other and one where employees merely put up with each other.
3. Your Work Environment
Your surroundings have an impact on your performance at work. Imagine working in an office right next to an airport in a building without soundproofing — productivity would plummet. While you might not be able to change the location of your business, there are some interior design changes you can make that will affect work quality and employee morale.
While open office designs have become extremely popular, they do have some shortcomings. Employees occasionally need a bit of privacy to focus on their tasks, which isn’t possible when they’re surrounded by distractions. Consider installing secluded work pods, and make it clear to new hires that they should use them whenever necessary. As we mentioned in our blog on 2018’s top office design trends, a work setting matters nearly as much as the work itself. Speaking of ...
4. The Work You Do
Consider what occurs during an interview: Your team is trying to get a feel for a prospective employee. While your leadership team needs to see if they’re the right fit, that person is also judging whether they’ll enjoy working for the company. If the interviewee is extremely qualified, you’re going to want to make the work environment as attractive as possible, and that starts with touting the work they will be doing.
To most employees, having the chance to hone their skills and grow in their career is an essential part of organizational culture in business. Provide these opportunities to new hires by promising continuous training and opportunities for promotions. This move can make the difference between a team that fires at all cylinders and one with high turnover.
5. Your Clients/Customers
It might not seem obvious at first, but the clients and customers that support your business also help define it. There is no getting around the fact that these are the people your team caters to, and as a result, your business begins to take on some of their traits. A company that sells juice boxes to soccer moms is going to have a much different feel than one that specializes in bulletproof vests.
What many business leaders forget is that this factor is completely in their control. The product or service they offer appeals to a certain type of person, but they can always make changes to that offering to attract a new audience. Just as an individual attempts to sell their skill set in an interview, a business must sell their capabilities strategically. Determine your ideal customer or client by asking who they are and what they care about. You may find that a shift in how you market your business changes your organizational culture over time.
6. A Human Approach
There’s a reason one of the first things we learn in preschool is how to treat others with respect and kindness. In the world of business, it often feels like ambition is everything, but this simple tenet matters far more. Treating fellow employees like human beings rather than cogs in a machine is absolutely essential, yet toxic work environments still exist, and those causing problems continue to wonder where things went wrong.
In the past, a lack of respect for a team member may have flown under the radar, but organizational culture has evolved, and everything you do at work is open to scrutiny. Employment review sites have made it easier than ever to expose workplaces that treat employee wellbeing as an afterthought, and the companies that make it a priority are reaping the benefits.
It’s clear that organizational culture matters, but you may be wondering how to make necessary changes, while still having the time to keep business moving.
Contact our team to learn how to improve your organizational culture with help from our experts!