Creating the right culture for your company can be key to your long-term success, but unfortunately, many companies leave the growth of their culture to chance. “What most people don’t realize is that there is no such thing as not having a culture,” says Wayne Shulick. “You have a company culture whether you realize it or not. And if you’re not developing it intentionally and with purpose, you’re almost guaranteed to end up with a culture that is counter-productive, even harmful, to your company’s goals.”
“A company’s culture is the personality and atmosphere of their organization,” says Wayne Shulick. “It’s the sum of your vision, mission, traditions, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. It’s who you are and what you do as a group of people working towards the same goal.”
Wayne Shulick goes on to explain that company culture isn’t static. It grows and changes and manifests itself in the way employees interact with one another, make decisions on a day-to-day basis, and deal with conflict. “These are all very important factors in your company’s success, and if you don’t define them inside of your culture yourself, they will develop haphazardly. Leadership must set their intentions and be deliberate about guiding the culture so it supports success.”
In order to build an intentional company culture, you need more than just a list of values. “Culture is when your employees’ and coworkers’ actions align with those values,” says Wayne Shulick. “Just saying that your company is innovative, creative, or thoughtful doesn’t make it so. Remember – Enron’s number one value as a company was ‘Integrity’.”
Having a vision and values is important, but in order to intentionally grow your company culture, you have to act on those values. Hire people who exemplify the values you want in your culture. Fire those who are in direct opposition to your company culture. Support “creativity” and “innovation” by supplying time and resources that make them possible. Create an atmosphere of “transparency” and “respect” by leading by example and implementing an open-door policy.
“You have to work towards a cohesive and comprehensive company culture. It requires thought and planning and input. And above all – it requires employee buy-in. You cannot have a company culture if your employees are not involved,” says Wayne Shulick.
The best way to evaluate where your current company culture stands is to ask the people who work with you, says Wayne Shulick. Send out surveys, invite anonymous feedback, interview department heads and employees, and hold town meetings. “Figuring out what your problems are will help you build a path forward,” says Shulick. “You need everyone’s help and buy-in to make your company culture work, so get them involved in the early stages. Make them feel like a part of the process.”