Have you ever read the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? It's a circular tale of how one thing leads to another.
At times, building company culture can feel the same way. Too often, leaders feel that building a good culture is all about fun and games, with one trend leading to another. It can feel overwhelming.
While it is nice to have fun at work, the best cultures are those where an employee is engaged in their job and therefore gives their best at work. When your employees are more engaged, they give their best at work. That leads the entire team to perform better as a whole and drives your company to increase revenue.
12 Ideas to Improve Company Culture
We know that culture is powerful, and every company has a culture. The question is, do you have the culture you need to be successful and profitable? While building a great company culture evolves over time, there are many ideas you can begin to institute to create the culture that leads to your employee’s engagement.
The good news is it only takes one idea can get it all started. To help you, here are 12 quick ideas centered around the four key components we know lead to great cultures of engaged employees. Notice that not one mentions a ping pong table.
Shared Mission: Create a wave that everyone wants to ride, one that brings a contagious and motivating energy.
1. Create a company purpose – Do you have company core values? This is the place to begin your culture journey. What defines you as a company? What do you want to become known for? Let people know WHY they are working there and what the end goal is they are working toward each day.
2. Live, don’t laminate – Are you consciously living by the words you expect others to live by? Live by a “do as I do, not a do as I say” mentality. When others see you living by these words, they will more easily see their importance and follow your lead.
People Development: Help others improve and feel more fulfilled in their role.
4. Take time to listen – What are their aspirations, goals, and personal dreams? Be the leader that listens more and talks less. Someone recently shared with me that they make a note at the top of their Individual Focus Meeting (IFM) notes that says 90/10. They encourage the person they are with to do 90% of the talking. Imagine what you will learn if you do this.
5. Focus on learning opportunities – Studies show how important learning and development is to people. Is there an area this quarter where someone could grow? Imagine if you focused on one area each quarter; their level of personal fulfillment and accomplishment increases as the year passes.
6. Provide constructive feedback – Take time to coach others in the moment to help in employee growth. Ask what they felt went well, what they would do again and what ideas they add to make it better next time. Feedback needs to be constructive, timely and helpful. When you are trusted and people feel you care, they take this feedback in a “safe zone,” knowing you are trying to help them be at their best.
Valued Voice – Promote an environment where employees feel free comfortable sharing and voicing their opinions.
7. Conduct engagement surveys – Take a pulse on how your team is feeling. Engagement surveys should be confidential and allow employees to share their true feelings. We encourage you to make this part of your annual plan. Imagine how the engagement of employees changed from 2019 to 2020! What people need changes regularly, conducting quick surveys allows you to take note and make needed changes.
8. Encourage new ideas – Some of the best ideas are with those that work the front lines. Do you take time to hear the thoughts or ask ideas others have on improvements? Set aside time to whiteboard thinking that could lead to new and exciting changes that deliver great results. Empower others to share and add freely. No idea is a bad idea – remember this in brainstorming, encourage people to share and tell you more.
9. Live by the Platinum Rule – It is so easy to coach others by the Golden Rule, which is to treat others how you want to be treated. But do they really respond the same way you do? The Platinum Rule allows you to treat them as THEY want to be treated. Take time to hear what makes them tick and make sure to take these motivations into account when interacting with each person.
Earned Trust – Trust is the foundation of everything you do in developing a strong culture. The most highly engaged and high performing teams trust their leadership and are willing to walk through trenches with them.
10. Act on engagement surveys – Make sure you share survey results with your team. When you acknowledge that their voice was heard, lay out plans to take action on these thoughts and share this with them, trust begins. Increase your communication and remember to be as transparent as you can.
11. Do what you say you will do – Keeping your promises. Don’t make promises you can’t keep in order to please people in the moment. Be open and honest, sharing truthfully your capabilities. Don’t forget that actions speak louder than words!
12. Be humble – It is okay to admit you are human. If you need, let others know when you feel you failed them, let them down, or didn’t hold true to your word. Allowing people to see that you trust them with these acknowledgements provides a sense of freedom for them to do the same with you.
There are many ways to keep the circular motion of a strong culture alive these days. The great news is each of the ideas shared here work whether you are in person or working in a remote environment. The most important takeaway is that it all starts with just ONE strategy to get you your momentum moving towards a better engaged team. One thing really does lead to the next, just like the mouse with the cookie but in a more constructive and productive way.