3 Crucial Steps to Help Define Your Business Culture

March 24, 201712:35 pm611 views

Innovation in learning requires a strong, cohesive workplace. Here, you can learn some helpful info about change management and how to effectively plan ahead for those big staff transitions and expansions. Success, as they say, can be a double-edged sword.

A prominent example of this has been the stratospheric rise, and subsequent fall, of US-based human resources start-up, Zenefits. Named the fastest-growing company in Silicon Valley in 2015, Zenefits became mired in a series of scandals, culminating in large-scale layoffs and the resignation of CEO Parker Conrad.

The media reported the story en masse, with most of those articles coming to a similar conclusion: For businesses not equipped to handle it, hyper growth can be just as problematic as a lack of growth.

The other most common and important challenge faced by businesses is: How do you maintain positive culture when you add more members to the team? Here’s a proactive approach to managing and maintaining your own culture, perhaps you could borrow a cue or two:

Step 1: Define

Before you think about managing your own workplace culture, you first need to understand what your culture is. And the best way to do this is to talk to your team.

Trying to develop or define culture without feedback from your team is, ultimately, an impossible task. After all, it is your team that makes your workplace tick, and they’re likely to have a fairly comprehensive idea of what your culture truly looks like.

We at Ento approached this by simply asking our team two questions:

  • What are 3 words you feel represent (or should represent) the company?
  • What are couple of core values you feel that we should uphold?

Depending on the size and nature of your business, you may select to ask different questions, or find a way for your employees to answer anonymously. But ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out the best way to capture honest, open, accurate feedback from your employees.

Once you do so, you then need to find a way to refine this feedback into something that encompasses the essence of your current culture. For us, it involved creating a word cloud that allowed us to see what mattered to our team as a whole.

Step 2: Direct

Ideally, the culture you build should be the foundation that supports your business to grow. This is where so many start-ups and small businesses fall down – in their initial stages, their culture builds organically, and so they assume that will continue as they grow.

However, like most things, a positive, supportive culture does not happen by accident, and you need to take steps to steer things in the right direction in which you want to grow.

See: Harnessing Technology to Build People-Centred Culture

Start by thinking about what you want your culture to look like going forward, and compare it with your current company culture as it exists now.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there any glaring differences between your actual culture and your ideal culture?
  • Is there anything you’re currently doing that could prevent you from achieving ideal culture as you grow?
  • What kind of policies, procedures or pathways do you need to implement in order to keep your culture heading in the direction you want it to?

You’re far better off identifying particular pain points while you’re still small, then finding out the hard way during a period of rapid growth.

At Ento, we realised during this process the one thing that could derail us going forward was lack of documentation. A significant part of how we operate, from when we take leave to who to contact when we need office supplies, was ‘tacit knowledge’ – that is, knowledge that exists not on paper, but in our heads.

Step 3: Decide

Once you identify your cultural pain points, you need to decide how to avoid or combat them. To address the lack of documentation in our business, we decided to embark on the ambitious task of defining and documenting each and every policy and procedure we adhere to.

We also overhauled our onboarding process to ensure new team members understand our ethos and feel connected to business and brand.

For us, this seemed to be the most effective way to avoid the growing pains that so many start-ups and small businesses face. By clearly defining workplace culture, and subsequently creating a clear mission statement and set of goals, you can ensure that all team members – new or old – are on the same page.

And by reviewing onboarding , you’re also ensuring that the new team members truly feel like they’re part of something great before they even set foot into the office. This process is still at its infancy, but so far we’re getting great feedback from the Ento team.

It’s easy to dismiss workplace culture as just another HR buzzword, but the reality is that your workplace culture, and the management thereof, plays a huge role in how successful your business is. A business with a rich company culture can expect to see lower rates of job turnover, higher productivity and higher levels of operating income and earnings growth.

Ultimately, ignoring your workplace culture could be a costly mistake. If it’s not something you’ve ever given much thought to, now is the time to start looking at the reality of your own culture. After all, none of us wants to be the next cautionary tale in business.

Author Bio

Aulay Macaulay, Founder and managing director, Ento

Aulay Macaulay is founder and managing director at Ento, the chosen cloud-based workforce management tool for over 3,000 Australian workplaces. With a focus on building happier, more productive workplaces, people are at the heart of everything we do. You can also read his latest piece on 35 team building activities and games for the workplace.

Also read: How Can HR Managers Assess Company Culture?

Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Content rights: The views expressed in this piece are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the publication’s view on the subject. This article is not edited for reference checks by HR in Asia and in case of plagiarism content, the author is solely responsible. The author is not remunerated for this guest contribution.

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