Company culture can be hard to define. It refers to a set of shared values and practices within an organization, but what does that mean, exactly, when it comes to day-to-day operations? There are many components that make up a company culture, ranging from organizational hierarchy and mission to interpersonal communications and working style. And, like any culture, company cultures change and evolve over time—for the better and for the worse. Especially now, with so many workplaces rapidly changing, more and more employers are finding gaps and inconsistencies between their company culture documents and actual practice. We are learning the company culture lesson over and over here at RevZilla.com as we continue to grow and new employees come into the mix. Here are some lessons we have learned along the way.
The fix. If things are misaligned when it comes to your company culture, how can you fix it? The first step is to review and assess your existing company culture. Be sure to include representatives from all levels in this process. This will provide a comprehensive look at how the company culture is working—or not working—at all levels. Then, take a deep look at what is wrong with your current culture and take steps to remedy it.
Review your mission. Start the process by reviewing your mission. Make sure that your mission is clear. Everything your company does, including the workplace environment you create for your employees, should be aligned with your mission. If it’s not, then you need to take some time to realign your focus so that your company culture supports your mission, vision and values.
Assess your systems and processes. Are your current systems and processes making sense? Do your company’s job descriptions and organizational hierarchy match the reality of what happens on a day-to-day basis? Do you have systems in place for rewarding employee performance? Are they instituted consistently? Identify what’s working and what isn’t.
Take a look at communication. Does information flow within the organization in a logical way? Do all employees have equal access to information? Is communication top-down or is it 360 degrees? Are employees encouraged to communicate their ideas for change? Are there policies for communication that employees are expected to follow? Look at both formal and informal communication—poor communication can seriously damage company culture.
Review your personnel policies. Do you have policies in place that support your organization’s values when it comes to things like work-life balance? For example, do you encourage flex-time or remote work? Do you value continuing education for your employees? How does your company feel about dress codes? Make sure your policies match the company culture you are looking to create. If they don’t, it’s time to rewrite the policies.
Examine the office vibe. Small factors can really influence company culture, from the way the office is decorated to the way employee birthdays are acknowledged (or not acknowledged!). Sometimes, these unwritten office rules can affect company culture as much as official policies. Take a look at how your company functions on a day-to-day basis. Ask your employees what they like and dislike about the current office vibe. Take these seemingly small issues seriously.
Once you have reviewed your current culture, brainstorm ideas with employees from all levels about how to fix what’s not working. You may have to change some policies, write some new job descriptions, and figure out new communications strategies. Remember that your informal policies are just as important as your formal ones.
When it is time to share these changes with the entire organization, you will want to make sure they are communicated in a clear and consistent way so that all employees support them. Once the changes are implemented, check back at regular intervals to see if your policies and day-to-day actions are supporting your mission.