Culture Vulture

Four ways to optimise your team environment

Nowadays the word CULTURE is as loose as Gandalf’s baggy wizard frock. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is priding themselves on what a fantastic work culture they have implemented but the one thing that people overlook is that everyone views culture differently.

The parents of the office may feel that incorporating flexible working policy – enabling them to do the school run – is an excellent facet to the work culture. On the other end of the spectrum, you have 20 somethings who may feel that having a free bar serving up Preseco and Peroni in abundance on Friday afternoon, is their idea of a “great” working environment.

My point is all employees measure company culture differently, so how do you cater for all parties?

Always communicate: Communicate your values and culture explicitly and continuously, both internally and externally. Employees must understand your culture, and why it’s important. Reward employees who advance your culture, and be open and honest with those who don’t.

Prioritise: Sure, every leader has the utopian vision of running a company where everyone’s happy, has fun, loves their co-workers, brings their dogs to the office and specialises in marketing, design, engineering and sales. Don’t fall victim to the cult of the ‘rock star’. Give me five people who work together as a team, anyday over one person who’s talented at everything. They’re not, and it’s not worth the trouble.

Good leadership sets a tone: Culture is shaped mostly by how your leaders act, so make sure your leadership team embodies the type of company you want to be. Is a ‘teamwork culture’ the ideal? You’d better make sure your executive team truly works as a team. Is ‘transparency’ most important?

Assign an Ambassador: It sounds simple, but companies need someone who is directly responsible for culture. Of course, that person can’t do it on their own, but deputise someone to focus on culture and to push everyone else in the right direction – whether they’re hiring candidates or managing the engineering team – it sets priorities.

Do these and the simple things well and you will see retention and morale improve during tougher times. That’s what great company culture is really all about.