Creating a consistent culture across your company (especially if you have remote locations) can be tricky at best. It was hard enough before, when we were all in the same building, but now it’s even harder with the move to more remote work due to COVID-19. However, implementing a positive, supportive environment in your business is more critical now than ever! If you’re a business owner struggling with the challenges of creating a great company culture, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or discouraged in getting things started.
But, it’s not impossible! In fact, we’ve learned several hard lessons while cracking the code of company culture, and our #1 secret? Invest in growing good leaders who uphold and replicate your company culture, then send them to your teams. If you’re wondering how to build culture in the workplace, here are five practical ways you can invest in your leaders to begin the change today.
1. Start at the top.
If investing in your leaders is the key to a successful company culture, doesn’t it make sense for the top leaders in your company to initiate the change? Leadership must be ready to ask direct questions and start the dialogue: What are our goals for our company culture? What practical things can we do to catalyze this change? In crafting these questions, top leaders should focus on leaders ranking directly below them to create a trickle-down effect.
Keep in mind that it’s not enough to create your goals if you never try to meet them. The meaningful dialogue you have with your high-ranking leadership should result in practical steps you can take to begin changing your company culture immediately.
Focusing on company culture may not come naturally to tech companies, which are often focused on quantitative metrics. That’s not a bad thing, but if the focus on revenue is greater than the focus on leadership, that leaves little room to invest in your leadership and improve your company’s culture. If you want to know how to build culture in the workplace, start with your leaders.
2. Let your employees fail.
Hear us out on this one. No, we’re not saying your company should create a culture of failure. What we are saying is you need to give your employees room to fail. If you handle failure harshly, they will eventually leave (assuming you didn’t respond by firing them). You will create a positive culture and environment with your employees right away if you allow them to explore and experiment with freedom.
But, with great power comes great responsibility. Though exploration and experimentation can lead to great discoveries, it has the potential to fail. We can’t tell you how to respond in every situation, but we urge you not to see failure as an offense worthy of firing.
3. Learn from your mistakes.
Although we at Steele Consulting do our best, sometimes we make mistakes we need to learn from. If you’re struggling with a team (whether they’re in-house or across the country), think critically about whether your struggle is due to a lack of investment in that team’s leadership.
We know firsthand why this is important, because we’ve made — and learned from — this particular mistake. In our experience, it’s far better to create a culture of support where team members can say, “I don’t know,” or “I need help,” than to overlook members’ needs in order to complete a project. Take our word for it; be aware of areas where this supportive culture is lacking and where your leadership needs investment — and be ready to learn from your mistakes.
4. Keep your team.
This is both a way to build culture in the workplace and a benefit of doing so; a good, consistent team pays off in the end! It will cost you far less time and money than battling all the costs and stress involved with a high turnover rate. It’s absolutely critical to be diligent in hiring the right people in the first place, of course. But keep them around by creating an attractive company culture. Yes, creating an incredible company culture will cost you money, but it’s much more cost-effective (not to mention less stressful and more fun) than having a high turnover.
5. Do less work that pays more.
Quality over quantity is the key here. We learned some time ago to avoid over-commitment with our projects, and yes, we’re still here to stand by that. Not only do we believe focusing on quality is the ideal way to complete projects and keep our clients satisfied, it also helps us maintain the morale of our employees.
That said, we also take this a step further: We allow our employees to share how we can best under commit — aka lighten their workload. Your team needs to find ways to work efficiently and in beautiful harmony. What’s the first step for you to learn how to build culture in the workplace by undercommiting? Listen to your team. Happily receive and consider their feedback.
Creating a positive company culture is a critical skill business owners need to develop to maximize their productivity, so we recommend you implement these practices for improvement today.