by Anita Sanchez, Ph.D., author of “The Four Sacred Gifts: Indigenous Wisdom for Modern Times”
As most business owners know from both research and first-hand experience, corporate culture has a foundational impact on their organization’s daily short-term sustainability, as well as their long-term viability over time. Too often, CEOs and founders find themselves behind the wheel of a company whose culture is no longer serving its people. Whether due to outdated ways of being and doing or unresolved breakdowns in communication, most business leaders will at some point find themselves wondering how to go about transforming their workplace culture to be more appreciative, positive, and productive. Ultimately, they seek a way of operating that encourages all employees to bring their gifts and passions to the table for the betterment of the workers and the bottom line.
So, how do you build a great corporate culture? Very intentionally, and it starts with the top leadership then engages leaders throughout the organization. You can feel it when you enter an organization where the cultural values are not just a poster on the wall; rather, they are felt and seen by the daily actions of every member and team.
Leaders who successfully and positively impact their company culture do so by being an example of the change they want to see. For example:
- Inspire by modelling appreciation for those around you.
- Encourage employees to bring their head and their heart to work.
- Re-engage employees’ hearts by shining a light on each person and keeping their fires of individual genius lit.
- Envision an ideal organizational future, then get into inspired action by empowering employees to use their unique talents and gifts to create this future together.
- Trust in the emergence of a powerful human system with greater capacities than could ever be predicted by analyzing the individual parts.
Where Should You Start?
First, you need to identify your workplace values (i.e., integrity, honesty, accountability, positive attitude, etc.). Then, you need to create a crystal-clear vision of what you want it to feel like to work here. This vision should align with your values and be detailed enough to include everything from everyday operations, to tangible opportunities to inspire people with your mission, to the feel and flavor of how people interact with one another. Let your imagination run wild and picture a truly ideal workplace scenario that would support the ideal culture you want to see.
Second, communicate your vision to your leadership team. You need all levels of leadership fully invested in the vision you’ve created and continuously engaged in modeling the highest values you’ve identified. For example, you’ll want to see your values and vision embraced in every interaction, from the finance office and stock analysts, to the onsite workers communicating with their colleagues in parallel worksite locations, to how you welcome the newest employee, to how employees engage with your customers.
Third, commit to consistently communicating and reinforcing the message of “who we are and how we do business” in everything from internal media to the organization’s public persona. Model your vision and your values personally, across your leadership team, and across all your internal and external communication channels.
Finally, listen to and learn from your employees, your customers, and your partners. Show sincere interest in understanding how your organization is really experienced by these individuals day in and day out. Make it easy for anyone to offer feedback, and create avenues for open dialogue to help people feel heard and appreciated.
If your values and vision reflect the very best of how your organization could operate and you wholeheartedly commit to living that vision, your culture can become the foundation and guiding star for enormous success – both as an enterprise and as a place where people love to work.
Anita Sanchez, Ph.D., Aztec and Mexican-American, is a transformational leadership consultant, speaker, coach, and author of the international best-selling book, “The Four Sacred Gifts: Indigenous Wisdom for Modern Times”. She bridges indigenous teachings with the latest science to inspire and equip women and men to enjoy meaningful, empowered lives and careers. For more information and to download the free song that is based on the book, visit www.FourSacredGifts.com. For information on Anita’s diversity training, see consulting website www.SanchezTennis.com.