Your Culture is a Signature Smoothie.
Smoothie making has become an art form. Some prefer to stick to the basics; others will try anything. That’s what’s brilliant about smoothies: the combinations are unique and endless, and we can each have a recipe for our own signature blend.
Workplace culture is much the same, minus the reusable, stainless steel straw. As a leader, you choose what ingredients you allow in your cultural smoothie and which ones you don’t. And you document that recipe so you can replicate it and share it with others.
Entrepreneur.com defines corporate culture as “a blend of the values, beliefs, taboos, symbols, rituals and myths all companies develop over time.” And just like smoothies, one workplace culture isn’t superior to another, but one might be more suited to your taste. When a company’s beliefs, values and behaviours match up with yours, you’ve got a culture fit.
Culture is intentional.
Leaders need to be able to articulate what the culture is, what it isn’t—and where it’s headed. Because culture happens, and it’s taking you with it. Dr. Henry Cloud is a leadership consultant and author of several books, including Boundaries for Leaders, says, above all: “Cultures are a combination of what you create and what you allow.”
We all own the culture of our organizations. Leaders, however are accountable for ensuring workplace culture evolves from our values and is constantly and consistently applied. When no one takes charge, and owns it, culture can quickly erode into what you’ve allowed, rather than what you intended. Accountability is the single biggest issue confronting organizations today, particularly those engaged in culture change efforts.
Who cares about culture?
So why do we care about culture? An intentional workplace culture fuels employee engagement, which in turn drives those results which bottom line, affect the bottom line. Gallup research has consistently demonstrated that workgroups with high levels of engagement experience 17% great productivity and 21% great profitability.
Culture and values shape workplace experiences, which fuel beliefs, which drive actions and results. You want to be sure your culture drives the right experiences, beliefs, actions and results. It’s not about making people happy, it’s about driving results. If your culture isn’t producing the right results and attracting, retaining, and engaging the right people, then you have a problem.
Your Perfect Culture
Like making the ideal smoothie, you’re in charge and accountable for what goes into your Culture Recipe:
- Define and articulate your desired culture and the values that will drive it
- Map out experiences and behaviours you want to encourage/discourage to drive beliefs
- Recognize positive actions and correct negative actions
- Celebrate results
Creating and nurturing a workplace culture might seem like the “fluffy stuff” on the surface, but there’s much (much) more to culture than a cohesive team. A positive and well-articulated culture will attract and retain talent who are engaged in their work, and care about the collective business goals which drive an organization forward. Here lies the key: the walk needs to match the talk, whatever that talk is.
Culture isn’t a “task” to check off on a list. Culture is a tricky balancing act of words, experiences, beliefs, and actions, affected daily by people. The purpose of culture is a successful company where people want to work.
Who creates culture? You do. We all do. Write it down and serve it up.
Peter Reek is the Founder and President of Smart, Savvy + Associates. We find high-calibre marketing, communications, creative and sales professionals with proven track records and in-demand skills for companies who need them, across the Pacific Northwest and in Toronto. We also provide leadership and training development programs for workplace programs, corporate retreats and individual growth opportunities. Contact Peter to discuss your organization's training needs.