Picture a recent graduate, eager to get started in their career. They get their first job, but a few months in, they start getting bored.
They feel uninspired, unsupported, and unengaged with other members of their team and with leadership. So, they become apathetic, doing just enough work to go unnoticed. Just shy of a year in, they leave for another opportunity.
Now, picture that same graduate.
They’ve started a new job and are immediately engaged in a conversation with their team leader about their goals and future plans. During their weekly tasks, the new hire’s team members are quick to show their support. Plus, regular meetings keep them looped into the company’s overall direction, so they always feel like their contributions matter.
After three years with the company, this rookie graduate becomes a core member of the leadership team.
Work culture isn’t just a buzzword or a trend. It’s a way of improving productivity, increasing employee fulfillment, and lowering costs. But mostly, it’s a critical component of running a strong, successful business in the most competitive markets.
What Is Work Culture?
Positive relationships, systems that serve, and a focus on building the capacity of those they lead — these should be the cornerstones of a business if leaders want to see sustained improvement in each team member’s areas of responsibility and oversight.
The importance of creating and sustaining a great working environment is the basis for an exceptional culture.
Effective leaders know the creation and sustenance of positive relationships is the first step toward addressing a variety of issues. Positive relationships improve team member retention, productivity, increased sales, reduced legal costs, and a myriad of other challenges.
It’s crucial to take time to establish working relationships through shared norms of operation and easily remembered phrases. With these practices in place, you help team members recall the expectations for their professional behavior toward one another.
It’s easy to imagine that monetary compensation is the main reason people remain in a role. Yet, study after study has shown that the following reasons are why employees choose to remain at a company:
- Positive professional culture
- Presence of a supportive team
- Leadership that takes a personal interest in employee satisfaction and success
With positive relationships in place and a regular affirmation of the culture present, the need to address the systems and organization of the team becomes very clear.
How “Systems That Serve” Fit In
“The question is not whether we have a system or protocol in place for a particular task, the question is really whether that system serves the purpose for which it is intended.” — Chris Ihrig, FiredUp! Culture CEO
“Systems that serve” seems extremely logical and perhaps even over-simplified. However, in most organizations there is a great reticence to change established practices.
When broken systems become difficult to navigate, it negatively impacts job satisfaction amongst team members. Regularly reviewing protocols and systems with team members is an excellent strategy.
As a leader, showing your team that you understand their challenges is a key affirmation of a culture that supports productivity.
The Benefits of a Positive Work Culture
Creating a positive work culture isn’t easy or quick, so why would leaders spend valuable resources on making it happen? Because the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term investments.
Teams that prioritize supportive environments and exceptional work culture create long-term benefits, including:
- Fulfillment — Team members understand how they are contributing to the overall well-being of the company and others.
- Retention — Happy employees are likely to remain and to grow with the organization.
- Productivity — Team members who understand their purpose, know the overall goal, and are incentivized to do their work are much more likely to be productive.
- Reduced Legal Costs — When culture and environment are positive and supportive, the likelihood that unresolved issues manifest into legal problems is much smaller.
Happier, more productive employees and lower costs are just a few of the benefits of an exceptional work culture. The question is, what does it take to get there?
How to Step Up Your Culture
You know what you want your culture to look like, but it may not be obvious what steps are needed to get there. There is no silver-bullet solution to creating a positive work culture. It takes persistence, but you can get started right now.
Learn about the Fired Up! Culture assessment here.
One of the best ways for leaders to improve culture is to make offers to people on your team to help them grow and advance within the company.
Here are five ways leaders can improve culture now and why they help.
1. Communicate Skills
Schedule a conversation once a month that covers an area of technical expertise in your field.
Why it helps: Provides welcome insight to team members who are not privy to that side of the business.
2. Share the Future
Take time to hold group sessions and share the expectations of company leadership and insights into the future direction of the firm.
Why it helps: It can dispel rumors and provide anticipation regarding coming initiatives.
3. Cross-Team Communication
Ask a fellow leader to come and share the positives and areas of focus for their department with your team.
Why it helps: Offers perspective on work taking place throughout the company.
4. Foster New Leaders
Schedule a regular 45-minute seminar on leadership for those on your team who see that as part of their future.
Why it helps: Helps to identify future leaders.
5. Take Time for Everyone
Host a question-and-answer lunch for the most junior team members.
Why it helps: Provides a forum for newer team members to pose questions they might otherwise be too shy or self-conscience to ask.
The key to all of these strategies is consistency. Team members need to see their leaders taking the time to regularly invest in their growth. Are you ready to take on the challenge of creating an exceptional work culture?
Take your company culture to the next level. Connect with us today.
Author, Speaker, and Change Agent.
Chris leads a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.