Organizational Culture comprises of common beliefs, shared values, and practices that have been established by leadership over a period of time. These beliefs, values, and practices are then communicated and upheld to ensure it is followed by everyone in the organization. According to Hofstede Insight, Organization culture is the method by which members of an organization tend to relate towards each other, their work, as well as the outside world, in comparison to other organizations.  It is always a collective and shared practice. Organization Culture shapes employee perspectives and attitudes, setting the tone and context of how an organization is perceived by internal and external stakeholders as well as the public at large. Culture is not built in a day, rather it takes years to evolve and take root in the organization. Culture is influenced by leadership and since organizations differ by industry, strategic goals, and the environment and market dynamics in which it operates, there is no single formula that can apply generally to any organization. Organization Culture has to carefully imbibed and nurtured to meet the needs and strategic goals of the organization.

The most successful companies have one thing in common – a strong organizational culture. They are characterized by the leadership’s collective consensus on the cultural outlook, priorities, and values that define the organization and its larger goals, and not on the charisma, charm, or thought process of an individual. Successful companies have leaders who demonstrate the organizational culture in their words and action during interaction with employees every day. When leaders lead by example, it builds consistency and conformance to the organizational culture, setting standards for employees to follow. Effective leaders demonstrate clarity in what constitutes the culture and values of the organization and determine how the organization evolves into the best places to work.  So, at the micro-level what goes into the making of the best workplaces? The answer lies with successful leaders who are committed to the organization’s mission and are able to rally others in the organization to believe in the organization’s mission and drive performance to achieve the strategic goals. In this article, we take you through six proven steps that lay the foundation to build a culture that can make your organization much valued by your employees.

Promote Organizational Values

People are more likely to be motivated if they believe they have a part to play in shaping the organization. For them, being committed to a common cause lends meaning to their own work. It is therefore imperative that the company’s culture must reflect the values of the organization and be inspired by them. Organizational values must be on everyone’s mind. Apart from being prominently displayed in offices, websites, or the intranet, articulating its importance within the workplace builds a sense of how important it is for the organization. Circling back to these values during important projects, meetings, discussions, town halls or general gatherings of employees is a great way to promote values. Leaders and managers must be able to clearly communicate organizational culture and values for their teams. People are also motivated by a sense of accomplishment and success. Managers must define what exactly constitutes success for each role, and how the success of the role is tied to the values.  Positive work culture is a result of connecting organizational values to people’s work and accomplishments evoking in them a sense of belonging and fulfillment, and getting their buy-in and commitment to the shared values.

Fostering a Climate of Care

Placing employees’ interest first is far more likely to produce better results for the organization than solely pursuing profits. Organizational Culture must communicate an atmosphere of safety and security for employees. Nurturing a culture of care strikes an immediate bond with employees helps them keep motivated and happy. It evokes a sense of trust. While the organization expects its people to stand up to challenges and deliver, employees who share a special cultural connect with the organization will most likely always deliver the best results, will go above and beyond their capabilities to solve customer problems and better team players. These attributes help organizations deliver better services and solutions to their customers, as compared to their competitors, and helping the company grow. Implementing continuous skill development for career progression, adequate work-life balance, a vibrant work culture, focus on health and safety, paid time offs, and industry-best reward and pay mechanisms, as well as other employee-friendly policies, can go a long way in fostering a culture of care.

Listening to your employees by conducting surveys and electing feedback is a great way to show you care. In addition to these, promoting creative activities, games, and events weekly or monthly, helps employees unwind from the pressure of work and let off steam after grueling projects. These measures communicate the organization’s culture of care, motivating employees to be passionate about work, unify them as a team and help them to orient their personal vision and goals with the organization’s values.

Help employees succeed at work

Employee experiences are shaped by organizational culture. A culture that is committed to better employee experience and success breeds trust and affinity creating positivity and connect. To guide employees to the organization’s goals it is essential to ensure employees are able to deliver on their jobs, have access to all the tools, resources and help to bring the best out of them. Whether working from the office or remotely, developing connect and engagement and fostering a mutual sense of ownership and responsibility for success is essential for organizational performance.   This is all the more necessary for entry-level employees who might feel completely overwhelmed by the influx of new information, while all the numbers and statistics may make them think their goals are unachievable. Communicating a clear plan on how the organization’s goals would be achieved and outlining how they would be able to contribute to that success would make them more comfortable and the task less daunting. Regular communication of goals, tracking performance, providing feedback using mentoring and coaching helps employees raise their performance standards and deliver on organizational goals. 

Visible leadership that instills confidence

Strong leadership is a quintessential characteristic of successful companies. It is also a common denominator to drive organizational culture and change. Leaders exert influence over others and therefore are in a unique position to reinforce organizational values while holding employees accountable. Whether the influence is positive or negative will depend on the leadership style and strategy execution approach adopted by leaders. Irrespective of their leadership styles, their influence has a huge impact on workplace culture. Precisely that’s why SHRM exhorts leaders to be intentional about fostering a workplace culture that enables employees to thrive. Effective Leadership instills confidence in employees and helps the organization navigate to its true north. Leadership must be visible and lead from the front, walk the talk and demonstrate accountability and ownership, especially in times of crisis and disruptions.  Strong and visible leadership helps employees and organizations find direction and overcome challenges and barriers to emerge successfully from crisis and restore customer confidence.

Ushering Entrepreneurial Mindset

An organizational culture that encourages employees to think outside the box, and bring new ideas and innovation, and empowering them to execute those ideas can add rich experience in terms of creating new products and solutions. Taking this step adds a plethora of experience to the organization as well as personal learning and growths for employees. Organizations that adopt this culture tend to be way ahead of their competitors. To usher an entrepreneurial mindset, the management and leadership must have the courage to take risks and be ready to accept failure and take them as the pathway to discover better ideas and solutions. However, it is important that an organization must ensure it has the right employees who can execute ideas and projects with an entrepreneurial mindset. While as much the organization requires process compliant and policy abiding teams and individuals, it equally needs risk-takers and thoughtful employees who can take smart risks based on informed and evidence-based decisions. Empowering teams by assuring them that it’s okay to fail goes to great lengths in empowering employees to take calculated and bold steps that can lead to innovative products and solutions.  Companies that nurture a culture of entrepreneurship among their employees tend to disrupt the markets and create blue oceans for themselves, making them undisputed leaders in their industry.

Driven by a higher calling

Organizations must be run with a higher calling that goes beyond profit-making. Evidence from a study of organizations for over eight decades reveals that the companies that are most profitable are actually not profit-focused. As paradoxical as it may sound, there is ample evidence rules out any skepticism to the otherwise. Authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their landmark book Built to Last mention that between the timeline period 1926 to 1990, a clutch of ‘visionary companies’ who focused beyond profit generation were able to make six times more for profits for their shareholders as compared to their rivals who solely concentrated on profit-making. This ‘higher calling’ beyond profits is explicitly to do with organizations and their stakeholders rallying their efforts to ensure the local communities and the global society benefits from their action. A survey by Harvard finds that organizations that are able to capitalize on the power of purpose for driving performance and profits tend to have a clear and distinct advantage over their competitors. Without an overriding purpose, organizational climate breeds detached employees who are driven by a sense of mediocrity, resulting in failing targets, weak customer engagement, leading to disastrous outcomes over a period of time.

To summarize, organizational culture is a reflection of the collective purpose, shared values, beliefs, and practices, lending it a unique character. Culture is guided by the standards that leaders set and their conformance and consistency in upholding organizational values is a vital link to influence others in the organization to follow the same. Organizational culture is also shaped by the practices, policies, and processes it applies in conducting its business as well as how it treats its employees. Organizations that encourage entrepreneurial mindset and innovation are able to distinguish themselves from their rivals and are able to create blue oceans for themselves. Finally, adopting a culture of looking beyond profits that bring positive change to local communities and global society enables organizations to build a sustainable business, that can bring better performance and profits, giving them a distinct competitive advantage over rivals.