Have you noticed employee morale slipping lately? Maybe your employees are coming in late and not meeting their deadlines. Maybe they’re afraid to call in sick so they overwork themselves and aren’t productive. Or maybe you’ve noticed some of your staff members are arguing, preventing productive collaboration.
If your company culture seems to be slowing down your daily operations and you’re not sure what to do, you can get it back on track with the following tips:
1. Define company culture first
People talk about “company culture” and how to create it or change it, but most fail to define it. If you’re going to transform something, you need to know specifically what you’re transforming. Defining company culture is the first step to transforming it.
William Craig from Forbes.com wrote an article explaining this dilemma. After reading Wikipedia’s definition of company culture, he realized what most everyone has been missing.
The accepted definition of company culture is how people behave within an organization. It sounds simple, but the assumption is that a company’s culture is something employees bring to the table. That’s only half the equation.
Craig points out that a company with only one (or zero) employees still has a culture. When a sole proprietor is running a business they have values and a vision driving their choices, including choosing to hire people who are a match with those values. This means at least part of a company’s culture can be hard-wired into the foundation itself.
“This creates a sort of give-and-take,” Craig says. “You have your own plans for your company’s development, and as your team grows, you’ll find that it can change and grow in unexpected and rewarding ways.”
Understanding that company culture is created collaboratively by business owners, as well as employees, will help you implement the right solutions.
2. Understand that you can’t see all factors that drive behavior
Your company’s culture is made up of how people behave within the company’s environment. However, it’s important to understand that how people behave is often driven by factors you can’t see.
The cliché says to leave your personal life at the office door, but that’s unrealistic.
It’s not realistic for people to compartmentalize themselves, so what they do instead is “suck it up” and push it down while they’re working. As a result, their frustration explodes unexpectedly at the most awkward times. You may see these employees as combative and argumentative, but they’re being driven by the suppression of their personal upsets.
Others might be suffering from a physical injury like a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and their behavior could be the result of that injury. With 1.7 million people in the US suffering from a TBI each year, there’s high chance that includes one of your employees. Considering that 75% of TBIs are concussions, you wouldn’t necessarily know they’re suffering from a brain injury.
TBIs don’t affect everyone the same way; it depends on the location of their injury, among other factors. Some people get frustrated easily while others have difficulty making decisions or can’t make decisions at all.
3. Don’t be so quick to turn over your staff
William Craig pointed out that a company has a culture even when it has no employees. Consider this information before turning over your staff to change company culture.
The source of the unwanted company culture might be bad habits or a lack of clear direction. It’s also possible that the employees have been supervising themselves for so long without corporate oversight that they’ve settled into a groove of behavior based on the perception that they’re in charge.
You can turn over your staff, but if you hire more people, you’ll probably end up with the same company culture in a short amount of time. Unless you can identify the root of where the undesirable culture is coming from, a mass turnover isn’t the solution; pinpointing the root of the culture problem is.
4. Assess your company culture honestly
Assessing your company culture honestly is the best way to find out what’s going on and make the appropriate changes. To do this, you’ve got to be completely honest and investigate with no expectations. Be open to the possibility that you or your company’s policies might be contributing to the culture somehow as well.
When you’re honest about where you are, then you can generate the map to get where you want to be.
Once you know the factors that create company culture, and can take an honest look at yours, you’ll be ready to implement strategies to turn that culture around.