Over the past decade, the term “company culture” has become a buzzword in the business world. Company culture defines the essence of a company, both internally and externally. In other words, your company culture answers the question, “What does my team think of my business from the inside out?” and “What do current and future customers think of the company from the outside in?” Attitudes, behaviors, values, and actions all help shape a company’s identity and contribute to company culture.
A positive company culture can be instrumental to your bottom line. Great company culture has been linked to happier employees, higher levels of productivity, increased engagement, and more revenue. Furthermore, nearly half of talented job seekers consider company culture an important factor in their decision-making process.
Culture happens naturally, but when you’re trying to define it or reinvent it, it takes work. Here’s what you need to know:
Communicate With Your Team
Communicate with your team and let them know that you plan to shift or create a more positive culture in the workplace, and then explain how it will be beneficial to everyone involved. Talking to your team provides an opportunity to get valuable feedback from them. What does company culture mean to them? Do they have any thoughts on how culture can be improved within the organization? Allow your team to provide suggestions in the initial meeting as well as the ability to think about it and offer suggestions later. Consider giving employees the chance to submit suggestions anonymously.
Conduct a Culture Audit
After you’ve communicated your plan, conduct an audit to examine the current state of your company culture. Employee engagement surveys will offer an accurate picture of how engaged your employees currently are, a strong indicator of the state of your company’s culture. You’ll also want to see how people on the outside perceive your organization using an employer-branding audit (for prospective employees) and customer audits (customer-service surveys).
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Document Your Company Culture Business Plan
When you think of company culture, business plans aren’t usually the first things that come to mind. However, the structure and format of a traditional business plan provides a great template that you can use to create a modified version of a culture plan.
When you look at sample business plans, you’ll notice that the executive-summary section provides an overview of the values and core elements that make up the company. Use this same structure to outline how company culture should be incorporated into a real, documented plan. Think of your executive summary (the first section of a business plan) as your mission statement. Who do you want to be? Why does your work matter? Use these answers to mold your mission statement, marketing plan, internal operations, and more.
Committing a culture plan to paper makes it easier to share that information across your organization and use it as a frame of reference time and time again. It also helps new team members during their onboarding process. Once they understand the core of the company, they can acclimate more seamlessly.
As you create your culture plan, consider the following factors:
Create a Culture Persona
Company culture can be personified as a character. If your company could be a person, who would that person be? Are they transparent and open-minded? Customer-oriented? Focused? And when customers and clients interact with your business, do they feel like they’re speaking to the same person each time?
If you’ve ever had to reach out numerous times to a company and felt as though you were speaking to the same person each time, chances are good that they have a customer-service plan and culture plan in place. Here are a few words that can help you define the culture you hope to cultivate:
Set Culture Goals
Now that you’ve collected feedback, figured out who you want to be, and decided how you want to be perceived, it’s time to start setting goals that help you shape your ideal culture perception. For example, if employee turnover has been 20%, one of your goals might be to lower that by at least 10% by incorporating new company-culture strategies.
Gather a Culture Committee
Building a great company culture is a long-term initiative. That last thing you want to do is work hard to implement and reinforce new values, only to find that those values and plans have fallen by the wayside after a year or two. A culture committee consists of employees from each department who come together to ensure that company culture remains a consistent part of everyday routines. This team will come together to discuss and plan all ideas that reinforce your culture goals.
Building or transforming a company culture requires thoughtful, diligent work—but the payoffs can be immense for both your brand and your employees.
About the Author
Dave Lavinsky is an internationally renowned business-plan consultant who specializes in the fields of capital raising and new-venture development. He is the co-founder of Growthink, a leading business-plan consulting firm that has helped over 1 million companies grow over the past 20+ years.