Company culture seems to be all the rage. An online search can reveal nearly 100,000 news articles about it in 2015 alone.
As a small-business owner, you may read about the revolutionary moves made by companies like Google and Zappos and think, “There’s no way I can do that.”
The good news is, you don’t have to. A desirable company culture can be well within reach—just by being yourself and staying true to your organization’s most important values. You can encourage a positive environment that engages and inspires managers, staff and customers simply by keeping in mind these characteristics of some of the best business cultures.
The era of command and control is over. Companies with strong cultures have a clear mission and vision that's communicated from the top and reinforced periodically. You should have an open-door policy for feedback and suggestions and take the time to explain the big picture behind decisions and new developments. And keep in mind that more than ever, leaders seem to be extending open communication to external constituents via an active social media presence.
Hierarchy—with its unnecessary layers, bureaucratic processes and cog-in-a-wheel employees—can be the enemy of a vibrant culture. You can’t, however, just flatten your organization and hope for the best. Instead, consider aiming for a holocracy. This style removes power from a management hierarchy and distributes it across self-governed teams, with clear roles that are executed autonomously by each member.
Even if you’ve been in business for decades, you can kill your culture if you have a “because that’s how we’ve always done it” attitude. Desirable company cultures facilitate intrapreneurship, or the practice of coming up with and executing fresh ideas within the context of an established organization. Get into the habit of saying yes instead of no when you hear about a new approach, reward your employees for experimentation and don’t penalize failure.
About the Author
Alexandra Levit consults, writes, and explores leadership development, entrepreneurship, career and workplace trends on behalf of American Express, Canon, Deloitte, and Intuit. Since serving as a member of Business Roundtable's Springboard Project, which advised the Obama administration on current workplace issues, Alexandra produced the critically acclaimed JobSTART 101, a free online course that better prepares college students and graduates for the challenges of the workplace.
Read her blog here.