Do you ever walk into a business and the culture just feels good? The staff are warm and helpful, but not pushy or fake. There’s an authenticity to people, they’re not glancing sideways at each other or at you. They seem to have genuine relationships and can’t do enough for you? You come out thinking ‘I want to work in a place like that!’
What’s going on? Is it fantastic pay, nice benefits, or a very authoritarian manager? Probably not. What businesses like this have in common is a great culture.
It may be a hard thing to pin down, but its something you can’t ignore. Because if you don’t proactively decide what the culture in your business is going to be, then the team will decide it for you. It will evolve over time. Negative behaviours and ways of communicating, the way they treat customers, gossip and other ‘toxins’ will become the norm.
If you don’t proactively decide what the culture in your business is going to be, then the team will decide it for you.
What is culture?
Your culture is the understanding that your team has of what is (and is not) acceptable and expected behaviour in your business. It’s ‘the way we do things around here’. Usually, it’s undocumented, and that’s a big mistake. Without clarity of expectation, your team will generally sink rather than rise to the challenge.
‘Nobody rises to low expectations’ – Calvin Lloyd
How do you create a better culture?
Firstly, you have to define it. A simple way is a 3 x 3 values model. What are the owner’s 3 most important values, what are the teams 3 most important values, what are your customer’s 3 most important values? From each value, get the team to come up with desired behaviours for each – living examples of ‘what it looks like when we do this…’
Secondly – reinforce it and remind people. I’ve lost count of the number of vision, mission and culture statements that get buried in handbooks. You need to reinforce what you want by holding people to account when they miss the mark, either 1:1 or as a group when there’s been a general failure. I also used to take one value per month to revisit in a staff meeting – where have we seen this demonstrated? When did we miss the mark? How can we do better? Appreciative enquiry is powerful in a group setting like this.
Finally – reward it. An excellent way to reinforce with your team that you mean what you say when it comes to culture is to reward people when they succeed. Depending on the size of your business you might want to do this monthly or weekly. Get team members to tell you when they have seen someone act in a way that supports your culture. Celebrate this and reward it when you get together. It’s a massive win and will boost your culture immeasurably.
How does a structured approach to CSR help?
CSR puts the flesh on the bones of your culture. It provides people with tangible examples of what your values are and gives them meaning by getting the team involved in living them out.
CSR shows teams a sense of purpose for the business that they can identify with. When they organise or take part in an event or activity, they get to gather together around an objective which is beyond the day to day, but which will then make the day to day even better. Giving back feels good, and that senses of satisfaction at a very deep level will strengthen the loyalty of your team to each other, and to the business. Finally, it gives you another reason to talk about your values – because a structured approach to CSR is rooted in your values as a business.
To get started with a structured approach to CSR, download my free ’60 Minute CSR Plan’.