Organizational culture is shaped by many factors, leadership chief among them. The values, vision and goals of your company come from the top down. Management's actions can encourage a quality culture that keeps employees happy, attracts new talent and builds a quality job environment. On the other hand, managers may negatively affect the culture and move it away from its intended form.
What Makes a Good Organizational Culture?
A good organizational culture does not spontaneously occur. You build it in large and small ways throughout many areas of the company. For example, your hiring process needs to go beyond looking for people who meet the base job requirements. New hires should share similar values to your business to fit in immediately.
Your organization's vision should be more than just a pithy statement on your “About” page. As the Harvard Business Review recommends, it should be the driving force behind your company, guiding your critical decisions.
Do you provide sufficient resources to empower your staff and managers? Your managers and employees need the right tools to handle their daily job duties and work toward the long-term goals of the company. The resources may include new technology, a specific type of workspace or foundational skills training.
Employees should be fulfilled by their positions. If they don't understand their place in your company or feel that their input is not valued, they won't have an easy time maintaining the company’s culture. Managers need to watch closely for signs of disengagement and proactively address the problem before it negatively impacts the team.
How Can Managers Reinforce Your Company's Culture?
Managers directly influence corporate culture through leadership, communication and delegation. They can strengthen your business culture by ensuring that their actions and words adhere to the values and vision of the organization. Managers need to set a good example for their team to encourage the adoption of the culture. Clear and transparent communication promotes frequent feedback, sharing and collaboration with the staff. Managers have an easier time conveying cultural values when they have communication channels readily available.
Your manager's leadership style should be shaped by the culture. If your company emphasizes a positive work-life balance and working together, then the managers should show that through their actions. The team needs a positive role model to look up to and emulate. In this environment, managers should work reasonable hours and collaborate with other teams as a way of bringing these values into their leadership skills.
Delegation also plays a role in cultural reinforcement. Your managers empower team members with responsibilities capable of showing them a big-picture view of their work. They have ownership of this duty and understand how it fits into the company's plan. Their job isn't disconnected from the vision. In fact, it's an integral part of it. Effective delegation gives your managers more time to emphasize the organization's values and builds trust within the team.
Poor communication and execution of organizational culture can negatively impact team morale. Managers unable to talk to their team can cause many issues. Projects fall behind schedule when employees have no direction. Stressful deadlines get put in place to try to stick to the original plan, but this move results in major burnout.
If an employee has a problem and requires leadership input, she may wait much longer than normal before bringing it to a manager. A small issue rapidly snowballs into an avalanche during this time frame. If a manager is known for reacting poorly to criticism or negative news, the team ends up walking on eggshells around him.
When managers act in a way that's incongruent with the company's values, employees become disconnected from the overall vision. Their productivity goes down, they may find it hard to communicate, and they may look for other job opportunities. Even if the employees share your company's values personally, a lack of reinforcement decreases their priority. You don't want to set the stage for a toxic workplace or one that's holding your company back from its goals.
The Importance Proper Training Has on Culture
Proper communication techniques are the most important tool to influence organizational culture in a positive fashion. Managers must take steps to increase their team's comfort level. If employees don't feel confident talking to leadership, many opportunities to reinforce culture get lost. Your company's values get lost due to mixed messaging, as upper management says one thing, but the staff's direct manager says another. This confusion makes it difficult for employees to remain engaged, so top-tier communication skills are one of the best tools a manager can have.
However, effective communication skills don't spontaneously appear. Managers need proper training to know how to handle employee communication, the right practices to put into place and listening strategies. Invest in training for your managers, and give them the resources and support they need to achieve this communication-friendly environment. You may need to bring in one-on-one coaches, send your managers to classroom workshops, purchase effective online training courses or fund trips to a conference. The benefits of promoting a positive company culture far outweigh these expenses.
Make sure your managers are effectively influencing your organizational culture by investing in training today. Come explore our Leadership Essentials courses to ensure your leadership team develops the skills they need to become truly great leaders.