Webster’s dictionary has defined culture as “ the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.” While the vision statement governs what we do in an organisation, culture plays an important part in defining the way things are done. It answers the “How” part of activities in a company. Since it is a softer aspect of company building, it is all the more difficult to build it. A strong culture acts as a guide for future generations of the company. Here are 7 steps which would help in building a strong and lasting company culture.
1. Strong vision: sense of purpose
A company’s vision defines its core and gives a sense of purpose to the organisation. It can be defined as- “What the company stands for”. A strong and well defined vision statement helps as a driving force for company culture. Make sure that your company’s vision is well defined and communicated to all the employees. Also, it is very important to communicate the company’s vision while hiring new employees.
2. Set an example
Just like in a family, culture flows from top to bottom in a company. It is therefore very important for the top management to set an example of living the company culture. Every small and big step that the top management takes is keenly observed by the whole workforce and sets the tone for their further actions. It is very important for the top bosses to not only preach a certain kind of behavior, but also practice the same.
3. Propagate values through stories
Every individual has some core values that they never compromise on. The source for these values is not external. I.e. these values are never imposed on anyone, rather, they come from within. One great way to instill and propagate strong values is through stories. Invest in telling and propagating stories in the company that would serve as strong examples of values. The best time to communicate these stories is at the time of employee hiring. Make sure that the top management communicates with all the new hires and talks about positive stories citing examples of strong values thus strengthening strong company culture
4. Hire for attitude and train the rest
While hiring new employees, the best strategy is to hire for the right attitude and character and then train for knowledge and skills. However, usually hiring managers only pay attention to the skills and achievements mentioned in the resume. A high performing employee with the wrong kind of attitude acts as a rotten egg and ends up disturbing the delicate balance of company culture. The best way to judge for attitude is to check how a candidate has behaved in extreme conditions in the past. Ask them about their major successes and failures in life and how they dealt with it. This is called “Critical event interview” and the best way to understand the character.
5. Communicate frequently with clarity
Transparent communication is the key for a strong culture to thrive. Make sure that the leaders in the company communicate regularly with the employees to make them aware of the company's goals, strategy, achievements and even failures. This establishes a sense of trust among the workforce and strengthens the company culture.
6. Treat all employees with equality and respect
Make sure that all the employees, ranging from the CEO to the floor cleaner is treated with equally in the company. Sometimes, people at higher positions are not questioned for their decisions just because of their cadre. This behavior is seen as hypocritical by the employees and they tend to lose respect for the company. Make sure that there are open channels of communication in the company from bottom to top as well.