Your company culture determines the value and appeal of your company. However, despite its importance, culture can be easy to overlook and difficult to define. As you work to ensure that your company moves in the direction that you want, it’s important you understand, assess, and shape the culture that characterizes it.
What is company culture?
Though business professionals use the term ‘company culture’ fairly frequently, they rarely define it. A company culture includes, but is not limited to, the values, beliefs, attitudes, norms, symbols, assumptions, language, habits, and systems of a company. In essence it is all of the factors that combine to create your office atmosphere and mission. Though these factors may seem too vague to monitor or control, it’s important to note that a company’s culture is created by its founder, rather than its employees. While your employees may perpetuate or impede the culture, you have the power to define and create it. As the founder, you are responsible for choosing the values, beliefs, attitudes, etc. of your agency and then hiring staff that fit with that pre-existing vision.
What is your company culture?
Whether you’ve been in business for a few months or for many years, it’s wise to periodically evaluate the culture in your office. Some business firms pay large sums for a culture audit, in which a third-party comes in to assess your company and provide you with a report. While this is an option, there is an easier and less expensive way of evaluating your culture: take time to look around your office and observe. As you observe, ask yourself the following: What are the common behaviors of my employees? Would my employees go elsewhere if they had the opportunity? Do I notice a lot of gossip or distrust among my employees? Study your office for a few days with these questions in mind and write down what you see. While none of these observations define your culture by themselves, they all point to symptoms of your culture, whether positive or negative. As you observe, determine whether you’re satisfied with the behavior and habits in your office or if you’d like to see a change.
How do you change your company culture?
Your culture may not change rapidly, but it can change. To start, take a look at each department and work with the leaders to identify problems and set clear goals and objectives. The culture of your company as a whole is generally a composite of the cultures of individual departments. Though your employees do not decide your culture, that doesn’t mean that they can’t play a part in shaping and molding it. Allow your staff to be part of the creative process as you look at changes each department can make to better align with your company mission.
Maintaining a positive culture is as important as establishing one, which means you need to hire according to your culture and to eliminate individuals who do not cultivate it. If you want a culture of trust in your office then you need to either correct or dismiss those who do not promote it. Similarly, if you want a culture of learning and progress, you should not only encourage employees who foster those qualities, but you should also offer means to further them through extra training or advancement options.
You have the power to shape the culture of your company. Whether it’s just where you want it or you’d like to see changes, as you make shifts toward better supporting your vision, you’ll find that both the clients and employees you want will be drawn to your agency.