I’ve been to a number of jobs in my 15 years of being an employee. I’ve worked in a call center, a school and an international bank and one thing I noticed every time I enter a new company or organization is that people ask me the same questions which I’m sure most of you can identify with.
“What is the culture out there?”
Ring any bells? This is probably the most asked question for any new employee apart from information about salary and benefits. Just how important is culture that we always want to know?
Well, the simple answer to that question is that we each have our own comfort zones. We have environments we prefer above others because we thrive in them. It’s where we are able to exhibit our abilities and stay for a long period of time without condemning our jobs. I was with my first job for 10 years until our department folded and within that decade there have been a number of times when I wanted to leave but in the end, I always chose to stay.
Because I’m happy there. People treat me well, the work hours promote work-life balance, and they pay me more than enough to raise a family.
Culture is very important when it comes to our choice of employment. We want to make sure that we know where we’re headed and if we can thrive, if not survive, the job whose culture we are about to experience. Whether the culture is good or bad, depends highly on leadership because it is through good leadership that good company culture begins.
So how does a leader create a good company culture that will make each of his direct reports never want to leave? Here are some of the things a leader must do to achieve such:
Lead by Example
As a leader, you can’t expect people to do the right thing if they don’t see it in you. In this regard, a leader should have high moral and ethical standards that his directs can identify with. Practice what you preach so to speak.
If you have strict guidelines when it comes to punctuality, you need to be punctual yourself. Otherwise, you’re nothing but a hypocrite. That’s why it is very crucial for a leader to always exhibit good attitude and professionalism because he or she will always be under scrutiny. People can always throw you back something you want done but not doing yourself.
If people see you in your office an hour before the start of your actual shift, they will do their best not to be late for theirs.
Have a Vision
Perhaps the most important thing a leader must have is vision for without it, getting up every morning and enduring the traffic will not make any sense. If everyone has a common goal, and this goal is properly communicated, people will have each other’s backs and everyone will get excited to come to work everyday.
People perform better if they know where they’re headed and if they feel that they’re part of something special. That they actually have a part or contribution to the achievement of the team’s goals.
Be Firm and Be Fair
In an organization, there will always be a small amount of people who will oppose whatever the team is trying to accomplish and it is in these situations that a leader’s character is tested.
As a leader, you have to be firm but fair when it comes implementation. You have to be confrontational. If Employee A plays with his smart phone during office hours, you need to let him know that you will not tolerate such behavior but make sure that if another employee does the same thing, that he will be dealt with in the same way.
One of the most critical part of creating a positive culture is TRUST. People should be able to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly without being punished or judged indifferently. They should be able to trust you enough for them to tell you what they feel directly than unload those feelings to a subordinate.
According to Dave Ramsey, if a team member tells his grievances to someone who doesn’t have the authority to address his concerns, it is considered GOSSIP.
Have an open door policy and let people know that they can talk to you about their issues anytime they need to and that you are willing to listen even if the information they have is not in your favor.
Team buildings, company outings and film showing will not be enough. Motivating people means treating them with respect and having confidence in them that they can perform their jobs well and help achieve their individual goals as well as that of the team’s vision.
This is the very reason why I don’t like leaders who raise their voice and embarrass their staff in front of everyone. There is simply no way one can get motivated by doing that. It’s pointless to keep reprimanding people if you’re not giving them something to work on. Coach them, and lead them to the right direction instead.
Reward People for a Job Well Done
This doesn’t have to be monetary before we continue. Simply recognizing a person’s contribution through email or even during a meeting will go a long way. People need a pat on the back sometimes. They need to know that their efforts are appreciated by management and that they are contributing to the achievement of a goal.
In a previous team I had the pleasure of leading around five years ago, everyone was happy. Everyone gets along well and they were excited to come to work. Our rewards and recognition program back then wasn’t in monetary form. They were just printed out certificates that says AGENT OF THE MONTH. Everyone looked forward to it and everyone was happy to receive it. We award it in the middle of the floor where we tell everyone to stop doing what they’re doing for a few minutes and give the winner a round of applause.
We’ve all heard of the different cultures an organization has. You have the all-work-and-no-play culture, the backstabbing culture, the no-talking-to-each-other culture, or the everybody-loves-to-be-here culture. Whatever the company’s culture may be, it is the the leaders who are responsible because they are the same people who create, develop, and promote the kind of culture the organization has.
What is the culture in the company you work for? Do you see yourself still working there for the next three years?
I would love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment below and share your stories with me.
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