Shaping corporate culture is more than just publishing an employee handbook and requiring people to follow it. If you want a corporate culture that attracts and retains top talent, it takes a concerted effort from everyone at the top and it has to incorporate all elements of a company.
Culture is more than just a set of words, it is a business-wide mindset that includes all the values, traditions, attitudes and principles a company demonstrates, particularly these seven:
Culture starts and ends with people. If you covet a certain trait in employees, the time to look for it is during the hiring process, especially when you’re hiring for your first employees. If you want your business to be known as creative, then you should be looking for creative people.
Performance reviews are an important way to communicate culture to employees. The way your reviews are organized and what they focus on tell employees your priorities. If the first item on the review is punctuality, for example, that tells employees being on time is your company’s top priority.
Salaries, raises, benefits, and bonuses should align with the type of culture you want your company to convey. How you hand out bonuses and what behavior is rewarded with raises tells employees what you expect to see from them.
How your company celebrates milestones, both professionally and personally for employees, speaks a lot to corporate culture. If you value a fun, carefree culture, you’ll make a big deal out of birthdays. If your company is more serious in nature, then you’ll likely opt for something more low-key.
Rituals like banging on a gong after a major sale or doing a group plank before a meeting dictates to employees what culture you’re striving to achieve.
Whether you are sending out daily, highly-detailed memos or a simple monthly newsletter, the style and frequency of communication plays a huge role in corporate culture. Do you have an open door policy – where all feedback is welcome – or do you have a suggestion box in an area where people can surreptitiously drop anonymous proposals?
In addition, the genuineness of your communication with employees matters too. If your newsletter doesn’t really give employees anything worth caring about, that indicates an entirely different culture than if you are transparent about what’s going on in your company.
Firing & Promoting
As with hiring, who you let go, who you promote and on what grounds gives valuable clues to potential and current employees about the culture of your company. If you overlook bullying from your star employee and promote someone who has been there longer over someone who has a better track record, these will tell your employees what you value more than any words you say to them.
Above all else, the behavior of the leaders of a company sets the tone for its culture. Leaders have to consistently display traits and values they want to see from employees. Company leaders are always seen as role models to employees. Your company’s leadership cannot say one thing and do another. Such conduct only causes confusion and mistrust.
Establishing a corporate culture is an ongoing undertaking reflected in all aspects of a business. When you have a strong, positive, and well-defined culture, it is obvious and inviting to potential candidates no matter what part of your business they look at.
About the Author
Serhat Pala is the co-founder of Confirm BioSciences, which manufactures and distributes instant drug and diagnostic health tests and helps businesses create and manage effective drug testing programs. Currently, he works as Chief Advisor to the company while he pursues other entrepreneurial and charitable interests.