Benchmark Business Group

Design Your Culture

February 28, 2017

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From reading our articles the last few weeks you have a better understanding of why workplace culture matters and that it exists in every business (intentionally or by default). This week we want to outline the next steps to designing (or re-designing) your workplace culture. Just like most items that happen in a business, it should be designed by you, the business owner. Whether you just opened your doors or just celebrated your 25th business anniversary, you have the opportunity to design (or re-design) your workplace culture to match the values of your business, to set the expectations of leaders, and attract the talent needed. 

This month we challenged you to take a walk around your business and note what you see, feel, hear, smell and experience. What did you like about your current culture? What didn't you like? Does your business feel relaxed? Or, does it feel formal? Are your values and core beliefs incorporated into your culture? 

Culture Values Statement
At BBG, we encourage every business to have a Culture Values Statement. This is a written description of the attitudes, behaviors, and qualities that you value in your workplace by which their presence creates a productive workplace environment for your employees to achieve success.

Crafting a Culture Values Statement provides your employees with a clear understanding of your expectations for their attitude and behaviors in the workplace. It provides you with a tangible tool for engaging your team in creating the ideal workplace culture. The individuals you hire must agree to champion your workplace culture and participate in maintaining and promoting the values of your workplace environment.

Get Started
If you don't have a Culture Values Statement, you can start by writing down what you want and don't want. Review what you wrote from our challenges this month. Then, take a piece of paper or start a new document on your computer. Make two columns: title one column "Keep" and the other column "Change." Start jotting down the culture items you want to keep in your business and the ones you want to change. For example, if you don't like that everyone comes to work 10 minutes late, add "starting late" to the "Change" column. If your team has a genuine interest for your customers, write "customer care" in the "Keep" column.

Here are some other dynamics that drive your workplace culture. Consider them as you focus on the culture of your business:
  • Dress code
  • Vacation
  • Work week - Schedules
  • Problem solving
  • Communication within and outside the business
  • Physical environment of your business
  • Intangibles of your business: energy, communication, respect, trust
  • Recognition
  • How mistakes are handled
  • Clear vision, defined goals, and purpose of one's position
  • Openness to creativity and ideas
  • Learning, training and development
  • Work/life balance
  • Celebrate success
  • Collaborative or independent work
Design Your Workplace Culture
Workplace culture can be influenced by items as simple as having a dress code. For example, a dentist's office may require all the employees to wear a certain color of scrubs, an auto mechanic shop may require everyone to wear a custom logo shirt or, a consulting firm may require everyone to wear a suit. These are all very different businesses, but they all have the workplace culture of requiring certain attire. 
Remember, there are ways negativity will impact your workplace culture. This may include items such as: complaining, blaming, gossiping, and others. If you don't want these negative aspects in your business, then they shouldn't be part of your workplace culture and should be addressed when they happen. For example, if an employee is complaining about another employee then it is up to you to address it and to do so immediately. By letting the employee know that complaining is not acceptable and if there is a problem it is up to them to come up with a solution that will work for the business. Then, you can follow-up with that employee on the solution he/she came up with and how it will be implemented. 

Your workplace culture may include several tangible areas like written policies, how technology is used, and the physical layout of a building. A business that is one large open space for everyone to work usually has a workplace culture of collaboration and transparency. Workplace culture also has intangible components like respectfulness toward each other, trust, and employee satisfaction. 

To summarize this month's discussion on workplace culture, it is important to be purposeful in designing your workplace culture and not just let it happen. Once you've defined the workplace culture your business needs, make it tangible by putting it in writing so you can talk about it with your employees. If you need to create or change your workplace culture do it simply at first and keep adding to it. Making sure along the way it matches how you want everyone (employees, vendors, customers, community) to experience your business. 

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