This article first appeared on HR Management.
Culture is the personality and character of your company. How would employees describe your culture?
The culture is toxic. Leaders are the worst. Don’t worry about it, just do it. Culture, what culture? No one cares what I think. I don’t tell people where I work.
Or. Our leaders inspire me. We’re all about excellence. It’s the way we do things around here. It’s not the way we do things around here. I really feel valued and included. I get a buzz from telling people where I work.
Every organization or team – every group of people – has a culture. It’s their “personality”. Its core lies in the character, behavior, values and integrity of those unique individuals that make up the group. It is a potpourri of people coming together to deliver an outcome. Whether in business, sports, or any other gathering of people, its success lies, not only with the individual, but with the leader and the tone they set.
Developing a people culture that delivers productivity, loyalty and a can-do attitude requires investment; it takes time and can’t be tokenism. There needs to be a real commitment to understanding the individual. Identifying their talents is one important aspect, but so is getting below the surface to reveal behaviors, pressure points, and workplace environments that will build or break a person’s ability to contribute to the business.
If the environment of the organization is not founded in strong principles, values and purpose that are known by everyone, then integrating multiple personalities, experiences and cultures will not be productive.
Leaders have a responsibility to demonstrate the beliefs of the company and reinforce behaviors that reflect those values. It’s no good expecting your people to adhere to company values if leadership is seen to be saying one thing and acting differently.
Like most issues, culture begins at the top. Leadership that isolates themselves and makes no effort to set standards or to understand their people risk not just a bad reputation, but reduced results, high turnover and a toxic culture.
Leadership behavior can never be “do as I say, not as I do”. Leaders’ behaviors, both in and out of work – your communication style and how you handle the ups and downs of business – all affect company culture.
The key responsibility of leadership is to set the purpose, vision and direction of the organization and then connect the people to it. Behaviorally smart leaders know how to do this:
They model behaviors – people watch leaders and imitate what they see.
- They get to know their people to understand how and where their vision for their lives can align with the vision of the company. In other words, we are all going to be successful in this endeavor.
- They give every individual a purpose, a reason to come to work, an understanding of the value they bring to the vision.
- They ensure the workforce is skilled up.
- They set everyone up for success – building on strengths and managing limitations.
- They give everyone a voice.
- They spell out accountability, how it works, its benefits and its measurement.
Culture is a powerful differentiator in business. Reputations can be built and lost in a moment. Culture that is a product of people’s behaviors delivers growth to individuals and to the organization.
As a leader, if you want to know what your people think of your culture – head over to social media. No filters there in terms of people’s thoughts about your culture. And read a definition or two of “corporate culture”, on Wikipedia and elsewhere. It’s important to have that snapshot front of mind.
When both leaders and individuals can look at their group and say, “These are my people”. That’s when culture is healthy.
Next time we’ll talk about implementation: How do you gain the insights to identify talents and behaviors to deliver a healthy culture that leads to the delivery of productive business strategies? Hint: Human performance acceleration via validated behavioral insights applied from the top down.