Everyone in the working world is somewhat aware of the buzzword ‘company culture’ and the fact that it is important, but what does it mean and how do you become a culture champion?
There are many different definitions out there that tell part of the story. Some explain it by listing the component elements that impact culture such as: vision, values, norms, assumptions, beliefs, and habits. However William Craig, when writing for Forbes, described company culture as ‘something that is pre-existing in your company’s genetic code; it’s not something that employees bring with them’. I like this!
Company culture has the power to strengthen or damage the company as it grows. Luckily, business leaders are able to shape culture and use it to leverage competitive advantage.
Below is a list of 5 ways culture champions can cultivate a positive transformation:
1. Analyse it
As with all things you can’t manage something you don’t know or understand. Consequently, take stock regularly of the traits that emerge by taking time to look around and asking questions. Looking at things like how do your team treat each other or the attitudes they reflect while completing their work will give you an idea of the dominant culture in your business.
2. Lead by example
This is a very important and crucial point. If you want to positively alter culture it can be hard work, as it requires a consistent leadership from those who have influence; think carefully as these leaders may not all be in management, however culture flows from the top.
When leading cultural change all eyes will be on you and while no one can be perfect all of the time, other team will pick up on the things that do not match up. Essentially you need to practice what you preach.
3. Foster it in your team
Culture is one of those things that cannot simply be taught or presented in a meeting. Culture is like a plant that needs to be nurtured, cultivated and grown. As a result it is crucial that you develop the culture by first understanding it and then encouraging it through positive reinforcement within individuals and in team contexts.
Taking time out to organise team building activities and events fosters a team spirit, which is a key ingredient to developing an infectious culture. This can be achieved by scheduling a team activity each month, for example, where you eat together, go bowling or watch a movie. A simple thing like this can make all the difference. NB that is our very own Ed, Tara and Kat in the image above at Clerkenwell design week 2015, great day out!
4. Hire on culture
Traditionally companies place almost all their hiring just on skill and experience, which to be absolutely clear is very important! However, we believe it is also essential to understand how a potential team member will fit with the company dynamic; one bad attitude can destroy a positive team culture in a snap.
At Vi we believe that you must be able to answer the following two questions before hiring anyone new.
- Can this person do the job?
- Is this person going to be a good fit with our team culture?
5. Reflect it in your workspace
Like in point number 2, it is important that you are authentic with your culture and live out what you say. This means having an office space that mirrors your culture and showcases what you are all about. For example, if you walked into a creative agency’s office space and you were met by a blank and boring office space would you have much confidence in their creative ability? No, I wouldn’t want to work there or use their services.
Your physical environment is a tool by which you can communicate your culture, whether in words or in its holistic design. The appearance of your office space will showcase to your team, visitors and clients alike who you are and what you stand for in an organic way. The design of your workplace also helps to fulfil point 2, 3 and 4 of the list you’ve just read. Bargain! If you need any help with branding your office, check out our office-branding page for more information. However, if you need some inspiration take a look at our latest case studies.
So if you want to become a culture champion in your organisation, follow these 5 simple steps and build strengthened unique competitive advantage.