Company CultureSaying “thank you” when one of your employees does a good deed, is a basic and necessary part of having good corporate culture; you simply can’t have a top level culture if this type of courtesy and appreciation are not part of your constant daily environment around the work-place. But this is only the beginning, this type of “thank you” environment is just the WELCOME mat outside the front door. There’s so much more that goes in to creating top level company culture, especially in today’s ultra fast paced, ultra competitive world…

Inc.com, publishers of the business stalwart Inc. Magazine, refer to Corporate Culture as “the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature.” http://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/corporate-culture.html

Investopedia, an online business education site that was sold by Forbes in 2010 (for $42-million), defines Corporate Culture as “The beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.” http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/corporate-culture.asp

The website for Entrepreneur Magazine defines Corporate Culture as “A blend of the values, beliefs, taboos, symbols, rituals and myths all companies develop over time… (culture) describes and governs the ways a company’s owners and employees think, feel and act.” http://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/corporate-culture

Wherever you look, the exact definition is slightly different yet remarkably similar; they all talk about shared values and beliefs, and the way that employees and managers interact with each other, and with clients and suppliers. In other words… your company’s CULTURE is the overall general feeling that people get when they come to your “house” and meet your “family”. Are you kind to each other, enjoyable to be around, or do you bicker and pick on each other? Do your guests feel welcomed and enjoy their time with your family, or do they try to escape and never come back? Is your environment warm or cold, structured or hectic, focused or disorganized…?

If your company’s culture needs improvement, the good news is – it’s not that hard, but you need a plan. Here are 3 great ways to get started:

Share your vision, so everyone knows the big picture of where the company (or your department, or your area) is heading. If you’re making changes, take the time to explain why. When everyone knows what’s going on, and why it’s going on, you create a true “team work” environment.

Encourage open and honest communication that goes in both directions, from managers to employees, but also from employees to managers. Saying you have an “open door policy” is not enough. When someone wants to talk, encourage them to come to you, and then give them the time and respect to pay attention; and whenever possible, take notes.

Watch for moments when people give extra effort, and reward them for it. Every office has moments when it’s obvious that someone is trying above averagely hard. Don’t let these moments pass by, stop and recognize them. If you encourage an environment where extra effort is rewarded, you’ll start seeing more people try harder. What the specific “extra effort” is, is not as important as recognizing it and rewarding it; helping a co-worker, helping a customer, staying late to finish an important project, solving a problem. All these types of behaviors lead to increased team work and interconnectedness, which leads to improved moral and employee engagement.

Improving your Company’s Culture is an ongoing process, not a single event. So the most important part is to make a plan, and get started. If you need help, there are many good books that explore this process in great detail. There are also companies out there who can help you implement cost effective programs to get you started, and this is usually a big jumpstart to get you moving in the right direction quickly, versus trying to do it all on your own. Look for something like what you’ll find at www.EmployeeRewardsPrograms.com; cost effective, quick to get started, well planned out, and designed to create a better working environment across all employee levels. Improving your culture is worth the effort, for your daily enjoyment at work; but also for the improvements that result, in productivity, customer service, and employee engagement. Good luck getting started, ASAP!