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Is your company culture where you want it?

Don Tyler for Progressive Cattleman Published on 21 December 2018
Company Meeting

“Company culture” refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. It is rooted in the organization’s vision, goals, strategies and structure.

Though we should develop a written document outlining our culture, the actual culture is revealed in the day-to-day interactions among coworkers, leaders and others associated with the company. Your community is also well aware of your company’s true culture.

Developing your desired culture provides clarity for your employees and helps secure the culture you want. Without this clarity, employees establish the culture on their own, without your input and favoring their preferences.

Warning signs

There are many warning signs a company’s culture needs an overhaul. Some examples include:

  • Lack of accountability

  • Disinterest in meeting performance goals

  • Lack of sincere care for animals

  • High accident and injury rates

  • Ongoing and unresolved conflict

  • “Us vs. them” mentality between production employees and management

  • High turnover throughout the company

  • Inability to hire qualified candidates

  • Low attendance at company events

  • Minimal social interaction among employees

  • Disinterest in personal improvement

It is important to realize just because one or two people in your organization exhibit these negative characteristics, it does not mean your culture needs an overhaul. Instead, if these traits are found throughout your organization, then your culture requires a renewed focus and regular reinforcement.

If we recognize our company culture has some undesirable elements, it could be a reflection of our own personal values as owners or our lack of communicating the specific values we want to establish.

To develop and reinforce our culture, we must first identify and remove some common barriers that will hamper our success. These barriers might include emotional immaturity, bigotry or bias, poor support from superiors, inconsistency, a lack of a clear and communicated vision, poor accountability and inequity. They must be overcome before true progress can take place. We cannot establish our desired culture until the negative drivers of the inappropriate atmosphere are eliminated.

Action steps

As you work to remove known barriers, you can also begin to define your desired culture. First, define the core values you and your employees feel are the most appropriate for your business. Have engaging, one-on-one conversations with your employees to glean their thoughts on what they would like to see in the culture. Ask what they feel are some of the most positive attributes of your culture.

Glean their personal list of core values that should be included in your culture to ensure their sense of buy-in of the results. Compile those values and begin the process of communicating them consistently throughout the organization.

Your list of core values could include traits such as honesty, integrity, family, environmental stewardship, excellence, hard work, community, passion, balanced living, ethical behaviors, etc.

Additional strategies

1. In your regular staff meetings and conversations with employees, reinforce the positive expressions you see of your values in action.

2. Identify and immediately correct behaviors counter to your desired culture – on the spot. Use them as training opportunities. Develop rather than discipline in these situations.

3. Bring in local speakers from respected organizations to talk about their culture and the positive aspects of their efforts. Provide other speakers who can teach key areas such as safety, personal health and well-being, healthy relationships, personal finances, etc.

4. Provide rewards and recognition for positive changes. People tend to reduce their extra efforts if they don’t feel anyone noticed. Have company picnics and family outings, give away company products or gifts from vendors, etc., for those teams and individuals who help move the culture in the right direction.

5. Discuss and reinforce your core values during the hiring process, in interviews, in your advertisements for job openings, on your website, in the footer of your e-mail, during disciplinary actions and other communications that allow opportunities to share these values.

6. Look for occasions to discuss them with neighbors, vendors, customers and local businesses so it is clear you are serious about these values.

For companies that have not had a defined, written company culture in the past, begin by developing your complete list of values. Most companies will have 10 or 12 on their list. Once those are communicated to the staff, begin implementation by focusing on three or four of the values at a time rather than trying to establish all of them at once.

Prioritize those that need immediate focus and explain them clearly, talk about them in a variety of conversations, and use examples of how they should be expressed using different common scenarios.

Once those seem to be taking root in the organization, move on to other core values.

Remember, your culture is as obvious as the way every person in the company answers the phone – and as embedded as the comments made behind closed doors in board meetings. Your culture is already known throughout the local area. Be sure it reflects the characteristics you desire. end mark

PHOTO: If you, as a leader, don’t create your company’s culture, your employees will establish their own – with or without your input. Staff photo.

For a complete handout on this topic and a worksheet for developing your culture, email Don Tyler.

Don Tyler is founder of Tyler & Associates Management Coaching. For more information about this topic or other areas of employee management and business development, he can be reached through his website at Tyler & Associates or at (765) 490-0353.

Don Tyler
  • Don Tyler

  • Founder
  • Tyler & Associates Management Coaching

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