You might say we are culture nerds here at Snowfly. We care about organizational culture and have tools, programs, systems, and information to help you have an amazing organizational culture.
I’ve been thinking about the many aspects that go into culture and got onto a theme… “c” words that impact culture (which, coincidentally, starts with a “c!”) I started to accumulate these words, thinking about them, and thought it must be time to write a post sharing the “c” words that contribute to an amazing organizational culture. These could apply at a very small level, for example a tiny team, even a family, or group of friends, as well as a large, complex organization.
These words are powerful because they are principal-based. These are not whimisical ideas, rather they last through time, apply to different environments (office, warehouse, etc.), ages, sizes, locations, remote vs. onsite, etc.
When you create your culture strategy make sure you use a principal-based approach so your strategy withstands economic changes and all of the external and internal forces that could impact it. With that, let’s get started on 3 Critical Cs of an Amazing Organizational Culture:
An Amazing Organizational Culture has Amazing Communication
Amazing communication takes work. It doesn’t “just happen.” I mean, sometimes it does. If you have someone on your team that is intuitively and naturally excellent at communication you can have amazing communication at your office. But I’d say that will be few and far between. And, one great communicator can hit roadblocks if others leaders are poor communicators.
Your team wants to know what’s going on. They want to go home after work and think, “I’m working with an awesome team! I trust the leaders will be able to navigate through the weird changes in the world.”
Communication will impact confidence. When you help them know what is going on, for example, how economic or political situations impact your organization, they at least know you are thinking about the right things. When a competitor does something amazing, something your company should have done, they might think, “I should go work for them!”
They want to hear you understand what’s going on, that you have flexible strategies and plans, that the work they are doing makes a difference, that there is hope and a future for them, that they’ll have a job next year, that they might even get a raise or performance bonuses this year, etc.
You already think about this stuff, but they don’t know what you are thinking unless you communicate it. Here’s the problem: If you don’t communicate it, they will assume. And they will talk… at home, and with work colleagues. Maybe even with customers, prospects, and people in the industry. The last thing you want is for bad assumptions to turn into toxic gossip, creating an unstable work environment where your team spends more time looking for a new job (and talking to work friends to lure them away) than actually helping your execute on your strategy.
Amazing communication has two parts: Frequency and content. Giving your team insight, or a pep talk, once a year is likely not enough. Figure out the frequency you communicate the right things. The right things are your “content.” What should you share? What should you not share?
If this is interesting to you look at some of the core business books to see how successful organizations communicate. Two I’m thinking about right now are Good to Great and 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. Those didn’t set out to be books about organizational communication, but there are plenty examples of excellent communication.
If your goal is to create an amazing organizational culture you need to up your game and work towards intentional amazing communication.
Character Impacts Your Amazing Organizational Culture
I’m not talking about being a character, I’m talking about having character. I’m talking about integrity. Ethics. Being a good person. Increasing emotional intelligence.
I have worked for people who have very poor character. When you have a mismatch of character, or integrity, at work, there will be stress. I had an experience where this stress translated to physical stress and put in urgent care thinking I was having a heart attack. Seriously. That might sound dramatic but I spent months and months in an environment where leadership had low integrity and it physically impacted me.
When you model strong moral character you set a baseline of expectations for how your team treats one another, customers, competitors, etc. My observation is that most people want to work in an environment where they can trust their bosses to be good and do right. Everyone wants to win but winning while you make others suffer is not fun.
When you have character you think about win-win, which is one of the 7 Habits. You are aware of others, and your impact of others, which is the first and fourth pillar of emotional intelligence.
An organization full of people of character is an organization people want to work for. This can reduce your hiring and retention costs.
If this sounds too fluffy, simply think about the alternative. How would it be working in an office where leadership models cheating and lying and deception and destruction? None of that is going to help you build or sustain an amazing organizational culture.
Civility Is How You Treat Others
Civility is respect. Civility is all about your interactions. It is empathy, or awareness of others. You don’t all have to walk around with the kind, gentle, slow civility of Mr. Rogers, but you definitely want to model kindness in interactions with others.
When you model this, your team takes note. They treat others with more civility. They treat themselves with kindness. This extends from the top office to the entry-level roles, from the dev team to customers, from prospects to competitors.
This also makes for an amazing organizational culture.
Can you imagine going to work excited because you know you’ll be heard, respected, and treated with respect? Your value will be noticed but you, as a human, will be treated with dignity. Civility can be saying “thank you” as much as saying “great job!” (which is part of employee and peer recognition).
Sadly, I know that some people only get this level of treatment at work. Some don’t get this at home, or with friends. Too much unhealthy joking, bantering, sarcasm, etc. can lead someone to feel disrespected. They are always on guard, defensive, worried about being the butt of the joke.
I’m not saying you can’t have fun and joke at work. Perhaps you shift from joking about others to joking about things that won’t come back to disparaging a person, or a group of people.
If you grew up with teasing others you’ll have to work the rest of your life on this. I am. It’s hard. But they deserve it. You do to.
Encouraging civility in your office can help you create and sustain an amazing organizational culture.
This isn’t the last of the three Cs for amazing organizational culture. I started with the first two but the Snowfly team quickly brainstormed and we’ll have a few more to share. Stay tuned!