Ask yourself some quick questions and you can likely uncover your Company culture that exists today. Although employees often ask these questions, sometimes members of management forget to ask the very basic questions that help them to understand their Company Culture from the employee’s point of view, good or in need of improvement. Do we do our best to meet employee’s needs? Do we treat each other with empathy, dignity and respect? Do we respond to our customers, internally and externally, with urgency and positive impact? Do we hold ourselves accountable? Are we inquisitive? Do we empower our employees to amaze our customers? Are we consistent in delivering excellence? The answers to these questions will help you to start to get a better idea of how your culture is shaped.
After asking, the easy part, and answering honestly, the hard part, you will have a good idea of your current company culture. There may be facets of that culture that you think it would be healthy to change. In order to change, though, everyone needs to be on the same page and moving forward in the same direction. It is often useful at this stage to create a focus group of employees who will create and take the journey with you to develop a Purpose Statement for your Company. There are many different versions of this, the mission statement, the WHY, the Go-To statement or the Purpose Statement. They all drive toward answering the same question though, “Why are we in business?”
Kick off your focus group with cross functional participation. Explain the purpose of the meeting and open a brainstorming session. The idea here is to get as many thoughts on a whiteboard as possible, not to qualify them at this point. Let the team go away for a week and think about the ideas that have been generated. At the next meeting, start to work through which ideas capture the essence of who you think you are or want to become as a company, the reason you would tell the rest of the world for why you are in business. This statement should be “action-oriented” and should inspire people to actively DO something. Well written purpose statements not only help to guide your team internally toward a common understanding and goal, but are valuable tools externally for attracting quality candidates and customers. While the statements themselves serve as reminders of what is important to your organization, the process of engaging the workforce to develop them allows people to feel ownership for “their” organization.
Once your Purpose statement is finalized, which is a big step in the right direction, and one you should celebrate with the workforce, you are not yet finished. Next, you should decide how to socialize and message these statements. You might look at adding them to mousepads as free giveaways, using them on your website or having an artist depict them on the wall in the lobby. The point is to continually incorporate your Purpose Statement into the way in which you do business until it is ingrained and second nature.
As a side note, culture can and should be driven by initiatives, performance metrics, goals and other measures, but culture also needs to be driven by the less tangible, kindness, compassion and empathy. Cultures are driven by the words used and the deeds carried out every day. They are driven by doing what is right for your employees as human beings. By bringing in flowers on Mother’s Day, by handing out Good Gotchas, by taking the time to listen and to genuinely care.