“It’s a great place to work!”, or “I hate working there!” We’ve heard it, or suffered it, a hundred times before. The workplace environment, or “corporate culture” can motivate, engage and enhance employee productivity, collaboration and innovation, or demotivate and disengage.
The company culture is so important, in fact, that it is said to be a better indicator of a company’s future success than even the organisational strategy. Read that sentence again.
Think about it. When you first start a new job, you get a ‘feel’ for the place. From the ‘norm’ in terms of the dress code, or whether there is a relaxed, ‘family’ feel to the place, or on the other side of the coin, if everyone is on their toes and it’s “every man, or woman, for themselves”. It might be an environment where you feel like you can express yourself honestly, or a place where agreeing with the boss, and then complaining about him or her at the water cooler, is the unspoken rule. The shared understandings, or the underlying values, are what shapes “the way things are done”, and the way things are done creates the corporate culture.
“The corporate culture is a powerful force that can either lift an organisation to the stratosphere, or make it fall to its knees.”
Corporate culture is extremely important, and do you know what makes a great corporate culture? Trust. How do we build a corporate culture of trust? The answer is communications.
Honest and transparent communications are the building blocks for a corporate culture of candor and trust. When leaders communicate openly and honestly, they pave the way for everyone else in the organisation to do the same. Leaders model the behavior, and the result? An effective flow of information throughout the company, valuable knowledge sharing, teamwork, and, you got it, a corporate culture built on trust!
When we keep our teams informed on what is going on, it not only engages them with the organisational vision and mission, but it stops office gossip and negative politics in its tracks. When employees are told the truth, even if it’s not always pretty, you will gain their loyalty and support.
Tell employees how the organisation is going financially, yes, tell them! Let them know exactly what is expected of them and how their strengths can help the company. This is particularly important now as your business navigates the impact of COVID19. Communicate to employees as your people – Professionalism does not mean that there needs to be a lack of emotion, and in particular empathy! Too often leaders think that being aloof gains respect. Well, times are changing and showing vulnerability actually shows strength. It speaks to employees, inspiring them to work as part of something bigger than themselves!
Remember effective organisational communications goes both ways! When someone speaks up about an issue – praise their action, encourage more employees to have their say. It’s amazing how, when doors are opened and hierarchy is momentarily suspended so people can speak freely without negative consequences, organisational innovation can skyrocket.
A few communications tips to create a corporate culture based on trust:
- Tell employees about change before it happens
- Communicate openly and honestly (vulnerability is ok!)
- Communicate the company vision and mission consistently and creatively through words and by modeling the behavior
- Make sure every employee knows their role in the bigger organisational picture
- Communicate what is important and what is not – this builds the real shared values and beliefs – and a positive corporate culture!