Building Great Company Culture through Strong Leadership
It is said that in the 1950s, people used to look for jobs, in the 1980s, they started exploring ‘careers’ but in today’s time, all people seek is ‘Purpose’. This understanding is fundamental in building a great company, an institution that people would love to work for. Everything boils down to two words — Company Culture.
But the burning question is, who builds company culture? In most organizations, people believe the role of HR is to build and maintain company culture. While this can be true to a certain extent, however, it’s the employees who play an instrumental role in shaping and sustaining the organizational culture. And the nurturing of the employees is done by the leadership. Culture is the reflection of the CEO/founder and it trickles down, not the other way round.
Most new-age startups are in the technology space. Thanks to the explosion of mobile phones and cheap data available that has encouraged so many internet startups worldwide. People actually expect that employees have data on their phones, have Whatsapp, Skype, Viber (and several other such apps) and that people respond almost immediately. What a startup life the young generation is fancying about!
As a leader, you have to lead by example, show guidance and strength and inspire those around you. People follow leaders they trust, they look to them for inspiration. Create an environment which is uplifting and supportive, where work becomes a purpose for each individual. Become a leader who helps people find purpose in their work. When that happens, you will observe that the company has turned into an institution that nurtures people to greatness.
When humans feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves, they feel a strong sense of belonging. This is when the employees embark on a journey of unlocking their full potential.
Leaders have to be inspirational. They have to be the reason employees want to come to the office every day. They are the source of energy for the workplace ecosystem. That energy has to be so strong that layers below the leadership become the source over a period of time.
Let’s take an example. Is stress a result of a bad meeting with the boss, not meeting deadlines, workplace competition, etc. No! Stress is our reaction to the situation. Do leaders in the companies understand and practice this? When the leadership team practices no stress, that trickles down. Employees learn to react to situations in a different manner and there will be a lot less stress, and maybe no stress. How do we know there is no stress? When we are still energetic in the evening after office and are able to wake up early the next morning. This is quite similar to teachings in ancient Indian texts.
In the process, you as a leader, have nurtured a virtue in people.
The whole purpose of a leader is to nurture virtues in employees. With the right intentions, this will always work. Employees will feel connected to the system, gain virtues over time and continue to grow. And you will also notice that people will not leave since their purpose will be fulfilled. But that’s not all. The employees will create a purpose, and once fulfilled will find a new purpose. Do you have a leadership team that is able to nurture employees and show them the path to fulfill their purpose?
There is no perfect recipe or top 5 things that can create a culture. It’s the leader or leadership team who has to understand life, live life and understand lives at the workplace. As a leader, you have to understand that you are responsible for your people’s career and growth. Understand that they have trusted you for a few years of their life. It’s up to you if you can make that as several years. That can happen only if you can help them fulfil their purpose again and again.
In happy (non-stressed) companies employees will be more productive because they will be able to focus better. You see how much information/data we have around us. How do we focus and set the priorities right?
In one of my earlier articles, I was talking about complex problem solving as one of the key skills for a future workplace. This requires the ability to focus.
There will always be several problems to solve and we need to understand that not all can be solved. Focus on problems that create maximum impact. As leaders, we need to understand this and be able to live with it.
As always it will trickle down. As a result, employees will start focusing on fewer problems to solve, will find better solutions and the results will be apparent in the business. Aren’t all businesses looking for this — growth?
Over a period of time, the workplace will have no stress, employees will be able to focus on important aspects of business and solve complex problems. Isn’t that one battle won? Is that not the culture we all want to work in? Or in other words, we want to be that culture. That’s the culture where we can find answers to our purpose. And it’s the right leadership that can be the source of this reflection.
What Can the Managers Do?
Having a good company culture is a way to bring in talented people and also to retain the ones who are already there. Think about it. Isn’t it a win-win situation if the employees have a sense of purpose and the company is also growing?
While the work pressure may change from time to time, what matters is the company’s role in managing that stress. If the company wants its employees to be happy, it is important to build a sense of community for them. But how to do that?
Let’s wrap our head around how good leadership shapes the culture of a workplace.
1. Hire People who Share the Same Values
The organization should indulge in educating the employees about its values and goals and then evaluating whether it aligns with the employees’ personal beliefs. The objective should be to unite people who share the same beliefs.
2. Practice the Art of Listening
Like every drop makes an ocean, each employee is equally valuable for the success of the organization. The best way to bring about a culture change is to listen to the employees and act on what they say. This will give them a sense of inclusivity. Managers should indulge in forming an emotional connection with them by acknowledging their feelings. They must also include their opinions or feedback while making crucial decisions.
3. From ‘I’ to ‘US’
Companies need to work on the principle that people are not commodities. The aim should be to build a ‘community’ (not a ‘company’) of like-minded people working towards a superordinate goal.
4. Practice what You Preach
The simplest way to condition the employees to work in a particular way is to model the desired behavior yourself. Since childhood, humans have a better tendency to learn by what they see than what they hear. Therefore, the manager’s actions can have a positive/negative effect on the employees’ behavior.
5. Positive Reinforcement
The concept of positive reinforcement is simpler than it sounds: If the employee is doing a good job, encourage him to repeat it by rewarding him. This way managers can focus more on the positives than negatives.
As an organization, whether big or small, its people are the ones who plant the seeds of success. How would you feel if you had to literally push yourself to go to work every day? Where will you find the motivation to work? A company with a good culture makes its employees feel welcome because they are its biggest assets. Employees are not looking for ‘bosses’, they are looking for ‘leaders’ who can inspire them to reach their full potential. Thus, managers should acknowledge the power of their role and the impact that it can have on the employees.