Companies all over the country are lamenting over the quality of their corporate culture. They are obsessed with building a culture that they think will allow them to attract the right talent, keep their good employees happy, improve morale, and increase productivity. This usually includes something like adding beanbag chairs, a ping pong table, and a cappuccino machine to the break room. The dress code might be downgraded to “everyday casual”, once a week the company provides lunch, and in the summer the business shuts down on Fridays at noon. After a few months, when there is no improvement in productivity, retention or morale, leaders are left scratching their head and shrugging their shoulders.
What went wrong? Why aren’t things better around here?
The problem isn’t intent or for lack of trying. It’s the idea that a company can “build” its culture. Simply put, a company’s culture cannot be built, and then forced upon people. “Look what we did for you. Now enjoy it!” won’t get you the results you are looking for. The key to a high performance culture is to discover the great things about the culture that already exists, and emphasize the employee experience around those elements.
The Discovery Process
There are four main steps to actively begin your discover process.
Step 1: Watch for Patterns
Start by observing and spending time with your highest performing people. If they are not already at the center of your culture, they should be, and likely have created their own subculture. Watch for patterns like when they start their work day, go to lunch and go home. Start by observing and spending time with your highest performing people. If they are not already at the center of your culture, they should be, and likely have created their own subculture. Watch for patterns like when they start their work day, go to lunch and go home.
Step 2: Schedule One-on-Ones
Schedule individual meetings with top performers to see what they like and dislike about the current corporate culture. From events that are held to any teamwork initiatives already in place. Be sure to ask them for their suggestions based on what would help them to perform better and be more engaged with others.
Step 3: Hold a Feedback Session
Bring in lunch for a meeting and talk to top performers about what they like about the company, and things they think should be different. Make sure it is an eclectic group of top performing people from different departments. You want to get as close to a cross section of the business as possible. Even though departments different greatly in personality, top performers will share many needs, values and characteristics.
If you discover that your best people value collaboration, then make sure problems are solved by a committee. You may find that individual performance motivates your rock-stars, if so, make sure you recognize individual contribution and achievement. If a nurturing environment warms the hearts of your people, try a volunteer or fund raising event for a local charity.
Read the full E-Book from Pete Richichi, How to Discover and Build Your Corporate Culture, here.