Leaders have a lot of influence on setting their company culture because, as they say, ‘It All Starts From The Top.’ However, it has become commonplace for leaders to not be intentional in setting the pace for their culture, resulting in misalignment and misdirection.
As the business grows, the culture changes and shifts. Leaders have the opportunity to influence and set the direction. Yet, they don’t know how to be a catalyst for cultural change, resulting in mispositioning of the workplace culture to the organization’s values, mission, and vision.
So, the pressing question is, how can leaders shape and influence organizational culture?
1. Begin The Process
At the early stages of inception, the culture that the organization gets accustomed to will be the one set by the leaders and the founders. Conversations on goals, values, and objectives help shape the atmosphere the business will cultivate. Reviewing these factors every year and making any updates will ensure the culture and the direction stay aligned based on the fundamental principles.
2. Ensure Your Values Are Well Defined
Values drive the “how” of the behaviors we want to see in the organization. Defining values in a way that is meaningful and impactful to your employees and management team is key. Any business can say “Be Accountable,” but how you make that come alive in your processes is where it makes all the difference. As the business grows, ensure leaders are participating in reviewing and documenting the values and utilizing them in town halls, internal communication, and the hiring process.
3. It’s All About The Mission
If your mission statement is what gets you out of bed in the morning, then you need to ensure it does the same for your employees. Being able to make the business’s mission statement clear, understandable, and exciting for your teams is key to ensuring that they understand it and that they live by it. Referring to the mission statement during the weekly meeting, yearly town hall, and key events will ensure it stays on the top of everyone’s mind, and it’s their compass that aligns them to the business goals.
4. Lead By Example
It’s more than just talking the talk; you need to walk the walk. As a leader, you carry clout wherever you go, and more so within your business. Your words and actions have massive weight and sway. From attitudes to moods and mindset, you need to understand employees can easily get influenced by the attributes they observe. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be authentic, but to be mindful that the vibes you are putting out there are the ones others will pick up as well. High points and low points are a normal part of life in an organization, so you must be instilling the right attitudes and mindset in your employees by setting the standard.
5. Understand Change Starts With You
It’s important to understand that any change, especially when it comes to culture, starts with you. Remember, as a kid, and you wouldn’t eat your veggies unless you were told it would make you big and strong like your favorite superhero? The same thing goes here. If your employees don’t see you adjusting to the change, they won’t be inclined to make the change either. Being the influencer and, in part, the enforcer will ensure you get buy-in through the whole organization.
6. Work Hand-In-Hand With Your Managers
Your management team is vital to any culture change. They maximize efficiency and help to achieve organizational goals. If your management team is not on board with the culture changes you want to see, there is little chance of seeing your changes reinforced. Ensuring you get buy-in and feedback on the changes you want to see will ensure cohesiveness and balance for the success of the change.
7. Get The Right People On Your Team
It’s not just the qualification of team members that matters but also how they align and add value to the culture you are creating. There is nothing worse than hiring a genius jerk, which can get the work done but does it in a way that brings the whole organizational morale down and makes the workplace hostile. Ensure at all levels, you are hiring for culture add so that not only will they align with what you have today, but they will help bring the right tools to build for the future.
8. Clear And Well-Defined Job Responsibilities
As a leader, you are motivated by a vision, an end goal. That is what drives you to perform the best you can every single day. The same goes for your employees and their roles. If they don’t see the dots of how what they do helps drive your vision and the mission, they can feel lost and unmotivated. Constant reminders of how their work helps the business achieve its overall goals and mission will ensure they will continually feel valuable and keep striving to the finish line.
9. Setting And Monitoring Goals
In business, they say, ‘if you can’t measure it, then it doesn’t exist.’ Setting goals and measuring progress helps keep you and your team motivated, focused, and accountable. Through measuring and monitoring your goals, you can build excitement and celebrate when the organization hits a significant milestone. This sets the culture for acknowledging success and realizing that success is not a one-man show, but it takes everyone to win.
10. Have A Personal Touch
No one wants to feel invisible, and the same goes for your talented and valuable employees. Getting to know them on a personal level and acknowledging special moments in their lives like getting married or starting a family can be extremely rewarding for them. Don’t underestimate how far emotional connection can go and how building those foundational layers of trust will make your workplace culture stronger and more authentic.
As a leader, you need to be conscious of how your words and actions affect your business. Being accountable and thoughtful with how you drive the organization and those characteristics will trickle down to the rest of the layers. Creating and sustaining an organizational culture that is driven, transparent, and cares about others is not easy. Still, with the right leaders in place, you can create an incredible culture that your business and employees will recognize and value both inside and outside the business.