The reality is that company culture is hard to define – a lot of it is tied to what marketing executive Brad Nierenberg calls “intangibles.”
While physical objects in the office may reflect your company’s culture, what lies at the heart of it tends to be attitudes that trickle down from the leadership. How business is conducted matters more than where or with what tool; culture is a stronger predictor of company success and employee satisfaction.
Because company culture is so important to overall success, it’s important to look to businesses that foster a positive work environment to see how we can apply their practices to our companies. These three lessons come from some of the most cohesive, powerful companies around – ideal role models for the business world.Staying accountable matters
When something goes wrong in your office, or someone falls behind on their work, do people look around, hoping to shift the blame? Or do they take responsibility when they’ve made a mistake? Being honest and accountable
in your work relationships – both with your colleagues and clients – is vital to a strong corporate culture.
If people don’t trust each other to complete work according to deadlines or put out a quality product, they won’t work well together, employee and client retention rates will fall, and your business will quickly find itself in trouble. When we take responsibility for our shortcomings, we open ourselves up to helpful criticism, and are able to look for solutions to the problem.
Accountability starts from the top, which means C-suite executives need to model this behavior. When the boss is willing to say that the buck stops here, you know that you’re in a work environment where the work – not the ego – comes first.Volunteering builds bonds
One area where even good workplaces fall short is around planning teambuilding activities – things to do outside the office that reinforce a strong corporate culture. When not skipped entirely, teambuilding usually consists of spending a Saturday on a ropes course or practicing trust falls, but this isn’t a meaningful contribution to your work community.
A better way to help a workplace team come together is through volunteering in the community
. Working to make meals at a food kitchen, tutoring neighborhood kids, or helping a charity your company sponsors are all valuable efforts that require staff to bring their skills to a new environment and alternate priorities. It makes people feel good, and reinforces the idea that your company takes responsibility for its staff and its broader community.Fostering leadership counts
If you talk to professionals, one major concern is with career advancement – is there room for them to move up through the ranks in their company? For those who feel like they’re stagnating, part of the problem may be that the corporate culture doesn’t encourage lower level workers to find spaces where they can lead. Without a chance to prove their skills as a leader, employees often feel they’ll be skipped over for a promotion.
This is why staff at LinkedIn feel so strongly about the overall office culture, one that emphasises the tripartite: Leadership, Leverage, and Results. As one staff member notes, LinkedIn encourages all employees to think a few steps ahead, positioning their next move or opportunity
. By giving staff members the opportunity to self-direct and devise a plan, everyone is encouraged to think of themselves as a leader who will be respected if they come up with a sound idea.
Ultimately, building a strong corporate culture will benefit your business by enhancing its reputation
for quality work and smart, empowered employees. Depending on what happens in your offices, those outside will want to work with you and for you.
When your office is seen as the place to be, as a veritable opportunity factory, you’ll know it’s something special.