Company culture is a combination of beliefs and behaviors within a company. And it’s no small thing – companies with positive cultures see 4x the revenue growth and higher profit than companies with poor cultures.
Traditionally, face-to-face interactions drove company culture, and culture could be “felt” in the workplace. These days, company culture still plays a huge role at work, but – particularly for companies embracing a hybrid work model – company culture cannot rely upon office interactions alone. Today’s company culture is shaped by communication. Company values and behaviors must be shared clearly and often, whether through words, videos, or in-person interactions. And yes, hybrid work is absolutely compatible with a vibrant company culture! Here’s how to achieve it.
Step 1: Analyze current company culture.
Unfortunately, there is often a disconnect between how leadership views culture and how employees view culture. For example, a leader might declare that their company is “laid back and relaxed,” but employees might feel that the leader’s work approach is not really laid back at all. There must be consistency between the communicated culture and the behavior of the people within that culture. The tone is set by the leader in particular – if a leader desires a trusting workplace, then that leader must trust employees. If a leader wants an ingenuitive company, then that leader must allow employees to think outside of the box. Leaders ought to ask employees for their feedback on whether there is something missing between communicated culture and lived-out culture.
Step 2: Clarify culture.
Once leadership is clear on what the current company culture is (or is not), the next step is to clarify what they would like the company culture to be. This requires thought and intentionality, because culture must truly reflect a company’s values. Leaders can start by listing out company values, and then translate those values into policies and practices that will shape the company’s culture. For example, if a company values honesty, then leaders must be transparent with their employees. Leaders also must provide safe spaces for employees to be open and transparent as well. Over time, this will shape the workplace culture into a culture of honesty and transparency.
Step 3: Live out culture.
Once again, this step relies on leaders. Leaders must live out the culture they wish to see in the company in front of their team. This may appear to be a challenge with hybrid work, but it doesn’t have to be! It simply requires more intentional communication. For instance, if leaders would like their employees to take their vacation days, then – naturally – leaders must take their vacation days! In the office, it would be very obvious that a leader is out on vacation. In a hybrid model, leaders must communicate via email or video meeting that they are taking some time off and will not be available while away. The same is true for any valued characteristic or behavior. So, with a little extra thought, leaders can easily live out the culture they’d like to create without seeing employees face-to-face every day.
Inspired to improve your company culture? We Optimize Work is a boutique organizational management consulting firm that helps leaders create processes that increase engagement, performance and satisfaction with teams in different locations. Let’s connect! Email Domonique Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org.