Part II: How to build a magnetic company culture

In Part I, I addressed the values of Transparency and Purpose. I hope you’ve taken some time to think about at least one of those values–what it means to you, and how it might be expressed, or not, in your company’s culture.

This time I’m talking about enduring values. Values that, when they are part of a company’s core identity, have a significant impact on company culture; an impact that stands the test of time.

company culture examples

With that, I’d like to throw another couple ways to build your company’s culture:

3. Invest in your people

I’m not just a cog in a machine. And no employee wants to be treated like one.

The best way to motivate me is to see me, treat me, and invest in me as a person, not just as an employee.  If you are being treated as a person, your boss will actually ask about your life outside of work! A boss that sees you as a whole person will cut you some slack if something in your life outside of work isn’t going well (like health issues, or serious family stuff).

This past year was a tough one. I had some health issues, and they weren’t resolved in a week. Or even two. For months, I was not able to give 100% at work, and it was a really tough time. But what my boss wanted most was for me to get better. He even went as far as to say “When you’re sick, your job is to get better.” I know that kind of compassion is rare to come by in a boss, and I am incredibly grateful to have the job I do.

Now I have a lot of colleagues whose major complaint is that they feel like automatons at work. Despite all their effort on the job, they don’t feel like anyone actually cares about them at the office, particularly from management. I realize my situation is not typical, but in our office if someone is struggling, everyone picks up the slack with joy, not dread. There is this feeling (and it starts at the top) that we are all more than our jobs; and that sometimes life is more important than work. And because of this, I have a tremendous sense of loyalty to my boss, my team, and to the business.

4. Have a positive bias

A friend once told me “Praise in public, reprimand in private.” Seems like good advice; but I have to say I haven’t seen a lot of examples of it. No one likes to be called out for a mistake in front of the entire team. (That’s what bullies in grade school do.) And yet, I still have colleagues who share stories like this to me about their managers and bosses.

Since we were kids, we’ve been influenced by our peers. That peer influence makes us conform because we want to fit in; no one likes being outcast. But even more than fitting in, we want to be recognized and respected. It’s our nature. And it doesn’t really change when we grow up.

So when the boss gives us praise in front of everyone for a job well done, it feels great and motivates us. But when the boss makes the smallest comment criticizing our work, it can hang over us like a cloud for days. Build a culture of appreciation, not condemnation. Build your people up, don’t bring them down.

I’m not saying you can never address any issues, but when a company has a bias toward positive thinking–and values seeking and appreciating good things–good things often flourish. And when difficult conversations are had in the context of lots of positive ones, it shouldn’t surprise you that the outcomes of those conversations are a lot better, too.

It all starts with you

For better or for worse, the seeds to grow your company culture are all inside of you. And if you want to change that culture, you need to work in each of these areas for yourself. A company with a culture rooted in the values of transparency, purpose, invests in thier, and a positive bias is a company I want to work for. It’s a place where I want to bring my A game.

What are the core values of your company culture? What would you like to change? What will you do to change it?

core values list

Photo credit: Texture Time

Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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