As a business owner, it is your responsibility to set the tone for the company culture. Employees must understand the company culture and appreciate its importance.
A business owner can successfully establish a positive company culture by providing effective leadership, having a clear company mission and creating a team environment.
Here are 3 critical ways that you, as the business owner, can actively create and foster your company culture.
1. Lead by example, but be realistic
Effective leadership is necessary to build a motivated team, communicate the company’s mission and preserve the company culture. A successful leader is honest, fair and responsive. Employees must be comfortable coming to a leader and speaking openly with him or her.
Any positive or negative feedback should be accepted and handled in an appropriate manner by you that fosters more trust and open dialogue. Communication is crucial in any business relationship whether it is between co-workers or between a manager and staff member. Show your employees how important company culture is by rewarding those who advance your company’s culture.
While you of course want to lead by example, that also means the hard parts of leading like telling the truth when it’s challenging. Be honest with employees who are detrimental to company culture and try to steer them in the right direction. Don’t overlook those who are dysfunctional to the team’s performance and health. As your company grows, continue to preserve the company culture by hiring people who will enhance and maintain it.
One important part of hiring is to truly assess whether a candidate not only has the skills necessary to join you, but also if they’re a good culture fit. If a candidate doesn’t seem in line with your culture, be realistic that despite their “good on paper” skills, it’s simply not worth taking the risk that they aren’t right for the team environment.
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2. Spell out the company mission and live by it
The mission of the company must be clear, concise and meaningful. Mission statements sometimes get an unfair assessment due to the use of empty, ambiguous phrases such as “Our mission is to exceed our customers’ expectations.” or “It is our mission to provide diverse services and stay relevant in the current market.” A mission statement should succinctly state what the company does, how it does it and for whom, but try to add something more.
Think of the powerful TED Talk by Simon Sinek, where he talks about Start With Why; the “why” of what you’re doing as a business is far more powerful than the “what” you do part. A specific, powerful mission statement that is faithfully adhered to will create a uniform and effective company culture. To keep the company mission statement at the forefront, it should be clearly visible, such as on a sensible sign in the front lobby or posted in every employee’s cubicle.
3. Consider team activities to build your team
A motivated and unified team is crucial to a business’s success and to maintaining the company culture. Although each individual employee should have their own specific duties and role, it is important for every employee to feel included in the whole of the company’s culture.
Employees need to feel that their contributions are significant and appreciated, and that they contribute to the team as a whole. Team building activities can instill in your employees the importance of teamwork and the company culture. Fun and simple team building activities encourage employees to get to know one another and inspire self-expression, creativity and brainstorming.
Team activities can be simple icebreaker games that involve sharing life highlights and asking each other interesting questions. Other team activities can be focused more on problem solving and working together to reach a solution to a specific issue. There are many books and websites that are dedicated entirely to specific team building activities. Improve company culture and build a winning team by bringing employees together for creative, motivating team activities. It’s a great way to provide appreciation, too.
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Communicating your company culture and continually reinforcing the importance of that culture is an important part of having a successful business. No matter what direction you as a business owner would like to take the business, make sure it is clear to everyone else involved. A concise mission statement, effective leadership and teamwork will create a company culture that everyone is aware of and is motivated to preserve.