Assess Your Company Culture Yearly
Is your company culture designed to withstand change? There is an unlimited number of factors that can influence a company’s culture. Some factors you are able to control, such as who you hire, who you let go, and your policies and procedures. Some elements, such as the status of the economy or even how customer behaviors evolve over time, are outside of your control.
No culture can afford to stand still. It must evolve as the company does or it erodes. However, how that evolution happens is where many companies make a mistake. Too often, culture is left to fend for itself. There might be some conversations around what the culture should be or even a Culture Values Statement created a long time ago but over time it’s an area that gets neglected.
A company’s culture is something that should be intentionally designed and not just once, but on a reoccurring basis. The real concern is how quickly a culture can erode and how quietly because no one is worried about the design. Instead, good cultures are often taken for granted. And bad cultures are ignored. Or worse, hidden under the surface.
A company’s culture is often a direct reflection of the owner or the leadership team, until the company grows. As growth happens, those who were passionate about the culture tend to get further and further away from the day-to-day operations where the culture value statement either lives up to its vision or folds. And because the leaders are not as involved in the day-to-day operations the issues are often left to continue to get worse, until it starts to influence hard-to-miss issues such as service or hiring.
There’s a simple, but proven, way to ensure that your company’s culture will not just hold up to change but also thrive. Follow these three steps:
- Document and update your company culture. You’ve probably heard this before but having your company culture documented is extremely important. It’s a foundation that your business should come back to at least once a year and ask, “Does this still work?” Many years might pass before you need to update the statement, but by ensuring the culture is kept updated you know without a doubt that you’re not leaving the culture to chance. By having it documented, it becomes shareable. It becomes something that you can rally your team around instead of something that is buried somewhere on your computer.
- Rate the culture. Using your company culture statement is a great way to baseline where the business is now and how well that culture is holding up to change over time. Line by line look at your culture value statement and rate it on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being above average. Ask your managers to rate it. Ask your entire team to rate it. And learn. Discover what’s working and continue to nurture those elements. And most importantly, make a conscious decision to focus on areas that need improvement. Again, this is an activity that should happen at least once a year. If your culture is suffering it may need to be done more often. And if something big happens, make time for this activity. It will show you the path your company needs to take to create the culture you want.
- Make a plan. Once you’ve rated the culture, it’s time to look at what your company needs to do to influence the changes that are needed or to nurture what is already in place. Your plan may need to be monthly or possibly quarterly, but for each line of the culture value statement continue to ask:
- What are the leverage points within the company that would allow us to influence this part of the culture?
- What do we do now that has a positive impact on this area?
- What can we do to change this for the better?
- Pay attention to areas that are dependent on people and begin to look for ways to create less dependency on only one person. For instance, does someone on your team always bring in treats for an employee’s birthday or anniversary? Is that something the company can help with? Does the company keep a calendar of events that it wants to celebrate, or does someone take this on themselves?
A few simple changes might be all that is needed to ensure that your company culture is protected. You might discover that right now your company culture simply needs to be nurtured. However, as your business grows or when a big event happens, having this process in place, will ensure that your company culture handles change in a way that creates strength.