4 Ways Good Leaders Make Corporate Culture Completely Awesome
Keeping Your Corporate Culture Healthy and Energetic
"I work in a company that discourages speaking up and I love it", said no employee ever.
In fact, more employees are seeking out potential employers with a specific cultural DNA that not only encourages speaking up, but also does not retaliate. Not long ago, the phrase "corporate culture" would have sparked a choir of groans.
Things have changed, and they've changed for the better. Today empathy and accountability transformed from ivory tower abstractions into real, tangible practices that impact the way businesses work. And how employees do their work.
What's Your Corporate Culture?
The "corporate culture" of an organization refers to the beliefs, practices, and general feel within a corporation, team, or any connected group of people. It's their genetic make up. Their DNA. New York City has a culture, so does Paris, and so does Coca-Cola and Microsoft. While psychologists and those working in human resources have long known about the importance of a healthy workplace culture, it took executives a bit longer to catch on. Why? Because C-level executives often focus first and foremost on problems that have a direct impact on their bottom line. In the past, this focus has been misconstrued to mean that leaders can do whatever they want at the expense of their subordinates. We now know beyond any reasonable doubt that poor behavior from leadership is not only wrong, but it also has actual negative implications on employee productivity and the company's overall performance.
Also, we know that employees take their cues from leadership. So if leadership is performing their work in a sketchy manner, then so too will employees.
Why Leadership Matters to Corporate Culture
A leader who is angry, abusive, anxious, paranoid, or the like will encourage employees to be the same way. Even if this isn't done directly, there is a clear trickle-down effect of how leaders act that correlates with the behavior and attitudes of their employees. This is true for both upper and mid-level management. Just think of the tremendous impact a mid-level manager can have on employees. On the one hand, if a manager has a positive attitude, enjoys his work, and talks positively about the boss and the company as a whole, that will encourage lower-level employees to do the same. Or, at least, it will demonstrate by example, that gossip and other such unethical practices are not acceptable. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a mid-level manager who constantly complains and scoffs at his duties, his attitude will rub off on others.
So, how else do leaders influence corporate culture?
Leaders Impact Corporate Culture with Meaningful Work
The average U.S. worker will spend nearly one-third of his life on the job. It's no wonder that employees who do menial work, or who feel like what they do has no real purpose end up getting cynical or even depressed. It is the job of company leaders to ensure that every employee is doing meaningful work. This may sound like an incredibly difficult task, as some work is simply, by nature menial. In those instances, it is the responsibility of leaders to explain and make sure that employees (even low-ranking ones) understand how their seemingly menial job fits into the company's big picture. Beyond that, whenever possible, leaders should outline an employee's room for growth, which means helping subordinates understand that while the work they are doing NOW may not be the most rewarding, it is simply a rung on the ladder of success.
Leaders Appreciate Their Employees
Appreciation can come in many forms. One way is to acknowledge when an employee speaks up about wrongdoing and simply says "thanks for the info, we really appreciate it".
Through clear and honest communication, leaders can talk to employees one-on-one and let them know that they see all the good work they are doing and that they appreciate the employee's work ethic. They can also take things public by recognizing high-achieving employees during meetings or in circulated emails.
Good Leaders Improve Corporate Culture By Thinking About Well-being
An employee's well-being has to do with more than just their physical fitness. It also encompasses their work hours, non-work hours, social life, and mental health. And ability to voice their concerns without feeling like they stand out in a negative way.
Now that you know that leaders play a significant role in creating a healthy and productive workplace culture, you can work to improve your company's health by improving your employee's attitudes about speaking up about anything they see they think is wrong.
Start by setting up an ethics hotline where employees can anonymously report instances of leaders misbehaving badly or demonstrating poor corporate culture. Reports received are managed by a dedicated account representative within the company. And the reporting employee remains completely anonymous. An ethics hotline not only helps employees, but it also helps companies outsource some of the overhead and complications associated with maintaining a comprehensive HR department.