— March 31, 2019
I’ve written countless times about the importance of company culture—how it can be a tool for recruiting, how it helps with engagement, how it improves performance, how it gives your business a competitive edge.
All of which raises the question: what are you supposed to do when your culture is suboptimal?
As a business leader, you can’t overhaul your company culture with a simple decree, but you can put the wheels in motion for some cultural transformation.
Allow me to show you some examples of cultural troubleshooting.
What Leaders Can Do to Improve Company Culture
Ensure that decision-making is flat. Employees quickly get discouraged when they feel like they don’t have the autonomy to make real, impactful decisions—or that their decision-making has to go through countless layers of corporate hierarchy. Ask yourself: are your employees really empowered to take charge and make changes?
Be mission-minded. Every company should have a clear sense of purpose and a stated mission—but more than that, it’s important to connect your mission to the day-to-day responsibilities of each employee. Show each person how his or her role aligns with the big picture.
Stop punishing failure. One of the hallmarks of a strong company culture is that employees feel like they have room to try new things, swing for the fences—and potentially fail. If your response to failure is punitive, employees will never try anything daring or new. Make sure you respond to failure not with hostility but with a simple assessment of what went wrong, how similar mistakes can be avoided in the future, and what your team can learn from the failure.
Create a culture of feedback. Your team members want to feel like they can come to you with their honest suggestions and critiques. Be willing to listen and hear them out without getting defensive. This doesn’t mean you have to implement every idea your employees suggest! It just means you should help them feel heard.