Building a healthy organizational culture can be difficult in the best of times. Since early 2020 we have been faced with a “new normal” due to the Coronavirus, so a healthy culture is more important than ever to the why behind people staying employed at your organization.
According to Patrick Lencioni, “The single, greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health.” The question is, how do we get there? I suggest the first thing to do is to take an employee survey to understand the current state or your organization. Understanding where you are and where you want to be begins the great discussion.
Creating a better work culture involves everyone in the organization having a clear and consistent understanding of the culture. It also involves full transparency and effective communication from leaders. Ensure your leaders are clear on expected behaviors and ready to help translate how their team members individually contribute to your cultural goals.
Here are several steps to get started:
1. Strategic and Organizational Culture Alignment
- The development of a vision statement is necessary for every organization to inspire and motivate the organization’s workforce by providing a clear picture of where the organization is heading. The vision also provides a guidepost for managers to compare and align the organizational and strategic objectives to the culture.
- Developing a values statement requires the organization to think about what behaviors are valued and what behaviors are unacceptable. This statement provides guidance and prioritization to employees on how to conduct themselves in a business setting and provides the guidelines for what is important. An organization’s values provide context to internal and external constituents about exactly what you stand for and the culture you have created.
- Leaders of every organization should also invest time in developing their purpose and mission statement that stands the test of time. Once developed, all employees need to be aligned around the purpose, mission, vision, and values statement to support the meaningful work that matters and makes a difference in the world and to the organization. For individuals to understand the mission, vision, and values – keep them focused and easy to communicate.
2. Understand Organizational Health and Employee Engagement
- Take an Employee Survey that Measures both Culture and Engagement. Contact me for my recommendation because not all surveys are created equal.
- Create Connection. Employees that feel connected to the mission/vision/values of an organization or connected to a particular individual employed at the organization, will be less likely to leave. According to Gallup, 75% of employees resign because of their manager, and 70% of an employee’s engagement is tied to their relationship with their manager.
- Require all levels of people leaders to attend leadership development and coach training to ensure they are prepared to lead your organization according to your culture. Ensure each leader has an individual development plan that promotes continued growth and development that aligns with organizational culture, values, and goals.
- Align recognition to values and recognize a job well done. According to Gallup, appreciation for our performance is one of the top two factors leading to increased morale, engagement, and productivity. When employees feel respected for their work and when we can align recognition with performance and values this connects behaviors and actions to goals. Establish a culture of celebrating success!
3. Keep Employees Well-Informed
- Transparency, Transparency, Transparency. This is one of the hardest concepts for most leaders. They feel that most things should be kept close to the vest. And while that may be true for some limited number of things, it is not true for most things. Leaders need to understand that void of information, employees make things up in their head. Knowledge is power and when people know what is happening, they are more likely to follow.
- Help employees deal with change.
- Develop a culture of trust to transform your business. According to M. R. Covey, employees are more engaged when they believe their leaders understand what is happening on the front line and when they can trust their leaders. Be genuine.
4. Develop a Strategy that Cascades Throughout the Entire Organization
- We have all heard the quote assigned to Peter Drucker, “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.” And while this is true, having a strategy that aligns with the organization’s culture and ensures everyone is involved in achieving the goals with assist all involved to find purpose and meaning in their role. A sense of overall alignment with the organization sets in, once individuals can see how they fit into the equation of success.
- Develop One Page Plans that cascade from the organization to the department level to the individual level.
- Establish accountability because it helps promote engagement. Individuals want to know what they are responsible for and when everyone is clear, there is a higher likelihood that goals are accomplished. Clear expectations allow employees to value and take pride in their work, but it also explains how their work fits into the bigger picture.
This is just the beginning. Developing a strong and healthy culture requires intentional work. Establish a baseline of where you are and determine where you want to be and begin by understanding what your employees are saying. With that information, you can create the best culture and environment where people can do their best work.