What really is workplace culture?

Culture is an elusive concept, but one that affects everything from team meetings to personal motivation. More precisely, it can be defined as the behaviors and values that inform how a business and its employees function. Beyond salaries and benefits, company culture drives workers' contentment. 

But, how is a culture even created? 🤔

According to Robert Half, there are four factors that determine company culture: the history of the company, the vision, the common values, and the actions. 

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Workplace culture develops alongside the people of the business and is only as good as the people make it. Having a good culture is an easy statement to make but accurately measuring and taking action to improve it is a lot more difficult.

Mark Ridgeon, Chief of Staff

1. The company's history contains success stories and remarkable leaders that are highlighted as examples of the company's success. They serve to set the standard that everyone else should emulate. As always, the past influences the expectations of the present. 

2. The vision is what connects everyone. It is what the company imagines as the purpose toward which all of the hard work goes. By articulating and sharing this purpose, everyone feels connected to a larger goal, regardless of their division or sector. Given that people need to feel a sense of purpose, this is one of the most important things a leader can provide.

3. Shared values are precisely what you would expect them to be. These are the sentiments that guide how people go about achieving company goals and knowing what is and is not acceptable. Work habits and expected behaviors are based on these values.

4. Actions are the measurable manifestations of shared values. Whether it be inclusion programs or regular teambuilding exercises, these reinforce company culture on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps those breakroom snacks have more of an impact than you would think. 

With such a complex structure informing company culture, is it possible to alter it?

Why, of course!

But like all good things, it will take time. 🕰️

The mix of behaviors and values that works best will be different from company to company. Moreover, even that mix will have to shift as the business model grows. 

The key to finding balance is to keep in mind that lasting change cannot be imposed. Changes should be introduced with the purpose of gauging their impact, not alongside a demand for success. Ultimately, these changes have to resonate with those in the company in order to encourage them to modify their habits. 

Here are some fundamental questions that will lead to useful developments in the workplace: 

  • Why is this change in corporate culture important? 
  • What gap does it fill? 
  • In what concrete ways can this change be translated into the company's actions? 
  • What tools could we introduce to support this change?

Now that you have the keys, be the positive leader your company culture needs! 🔑

If you want to read more about the four elements of company culture, check out this article.

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