When evaluating the organizational culture of a business, it is important for owners to ask themselves two vital questions. Am I living and leading the values and expectations I wish for my employees to emulate? Am I communicating these values and expectations clearly throughout the chain of command?
Regardless if the business is brand new or well established, it is essential to develop and maintain an organizational system that nurtures the purpose and values of the company and, by de facto, its leadership.
Successful business owners do not take their organizational cultures for granted or underestimate how much these shared values impact long-term success. Instead, astute owners clarify values, explain them in writing and live by them each day.
Communicating these beliefs, however, does not exclusively mean telling employees what to do, how to act or what to say. The most influential communication is visible through day-to-day actions.
An owner who shows commitment in making the business a success, not only for themselves but also for their employees, may prove to be an inspirational figure that effectively communicates the values of the organization. Thus, the trend of leading by example must proliferate throughout the organization, including top management, to eliminate any staff skepticism or perceived discrepancies over these shared principles.
Likewise, it is important to maintain employee accountability on approved values and behavior regardless of their relation to the company’s bottom line.
If an employee acts against the core values of the business but prevails as one of the most productive employees in the company, this misbehavior must be addressed and corrected, despite the risk of lower productivity stemming from such a correction. On the surface, the decision to correct misconduct may appear easy or inconsequential; however, preserving the culture of an organization may prove to be quite challenging when it is in direct conflict with the financial interests of a business.
While values are an important driver of success, these standards are often forgotten, ignored or trivialized by management, with the assumption that all employees automatically know, or should know, what is expected of them. This common mistake may be averted by creating and nourishing a culture of excellence through the clarity of purpose, standards and measures for performance in the organization.
When employees are aware of this strategy, as well as their expectations and responsibilities within the organization, it enables them to concentrate on their own roles and trust that the others around them are doing the same.
Developing clear objectives for each individual, and the organization as a whole, allows employees to focus their efforts and help spur the company forward. This code of conduct allows for a cohesive and empowered environment with engaged employees that are willing to support the purpose of the organization, given its qualitative and laudable mission.
The answers to the two questions from the beginning of this column should include an honest assessment of the culture in a business. This examination may reveal gaps or weaknesses in the system; however, this check-up is also an opportunity to correct and strengthen the organizational culture, resulting in a healthier company that reflects the values of its leadership.