This is a question all companies should ask themselves before they hire their next employee. It’s definitely easier as a start-up, mainly because you have fewer employees. However, what you also have in your favor as a start-up is a culture that is highly unique and staff that completely buys into the vision, values and mantra of the company. As a larger organization, effectively communicating company values or determining whether or not a culture shift should be in order can be like turning the Titanic around… a daunting task. However, if you don’t make the turn, you could be headed for murky waters, one in which employees, departments and divisions can get off-track quickly, and this leads to unnecessary attrition and existing employees questioning whether or not they should stick around.
The Value System Anti-Biotic
Early in my career, most companies I worked for did not have a plan in place that explained the corporate mission and values, and the employee’s responsibility to align with that value system. Somebody should have thought to communicate the values of the company and furthermore, how those values translated into day-to-day, procedural operations. This is a difficult process, yet, it is one that needs to be frequently communicated and reinforced. Communicating the value system unilaterally is a key ingredient that will help form the desired company culture. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does work almost like an antibiotic. You must stay on it all the way through the prescribed period to get the desired result. In this case, the prescribed period is every calendar year the communication of corporate values must be addressed, especially with new employees as they come on board. As the value system anti-biotic takes effect and the communication plan gains momentum, it will create a well-rounded, healthier company, just as the doctor ordered.
Where Does It All Begin?
Successful corporate communication really starts with a healthy business culture that promotes and models the same value system from the top down. Leaders of the company must clearly define the values of the organization, the vision of leadership and expected behaviors for employees. This is the DNA of your corporate culture. Having defined goals and values is where successful communication begins.
All aspects of a company are interconnected and employee actions directly impact others within the company, especially as frequent change occurs. I believe the inability to impart clearly defined values to new and existing employees could be a big reason companies fail to thrive. If employees don’t understand the values of the company, they make decisions that are not in accord with the company’s vision and goals, and soon you have departments and divisions off-track. It’s a dangerous, slippery slope. One employee that is off-track, soon affects a department, and then a division. Then your company’s goals are nowhere near the projected forecast, then what? You find the company giving the appearance to employees that it cannot make good decisions. If this starts to happen, employees lose confidence. All of this can start with a small number of employees who are misguided, misinformed, or maybe they have not received clear communication on company values.
Does It Start With Human Resources?
In many companies, this is typically the department that is responsible for keeping the employees in line with the corporate vision. It starts with a solid corporate communications plan that also has company information clearly listed on the human resources website pages. It’s good to list the company mission, goals and vision statement. It’s better to have employees talking about why they love working for the company and how it has helped shape them in a positive way as professionals. This is great fodder for a company to also share on their social media channels. It’s like great PR that fosters positivity and happy employees.
All of this great content and PR should be introduced in the stages of when prospective employees begin researching about your company when they are about to apply for a job. It’s really all sales and marketing jargon that’s designed to attract great talent and keep them. As new employees get hired, the on-boarding process begins. This time is absolutely critical to inform the new employee of company expectations, values and guidelines for employees to follow. It’s not about rules, it’s about designing a human capital communications plan that talks about values and how important it is for the company and the employee to share the same values.
Collaboration And Balance
Collaboration in business is critical in order to create a stronger, healthier company, regardless of the market segment and size of the company. Corporate health is not exclusively a sales revenue and marketing function, although many seem to think that. Like collaboration, balance also plays a critical role in the health and wealth of a company. Here’s what I mean. Employees that are trained by their company tend to make better decisions based on the company value system and process. When the employee value system aligns with the company value system, then you have true corporate-employee balance. Once this occurs, the employee, department or division most likely will not make decisions that are adversely affecting the company. However, when the values and process are compromised, that’s when problems can occur and balance is not achieved. Thus, a more reactionary employee model will occur.
Talk About The Corporate Culture
Every company has a culture, and it starts with the brand, which is typically not fully understood. The brand is not just the exterior customer facing material like advertisements, the website, logos and taglines. The brand starts with the employees, which are the catalysts for a healthy company. What they say, how they act, how they talk to customers, and more importantly, how they buy into the company value system is critical. If employees aren’t buying into everything the company is doing, then they are most likely not going to be as productive as they should be and they also may be stirring-up negativity amongst their peers.
A company’s culture consists of many different types of people, personalities and work habits. It’s a highly complex ecosystem that is difficult to manage and keep on course. Companies can fail because they do not have a consistent, clear and articulated corporate culture that informs employees of expectations. This is a cause — effect model. When the culture is not thoroughly explained and continually reinforced, problems will materialize. These problems can be a preliminary symptom of why companies are unable to create and sustain healthy growth. If employees are unsure of the end goal, how can they achieve it? The lesson here is to make sure you are communicating to employees the culture, strategy and process for them to follow so they can succeed. Put it in writing, talk about it, repeat the process and brand it inside the company. Consistency and clarity is the key.
Reactive Not Proactive
Communication, values, culture and collaboration: these are all important, but if you are not achieving balance in how your employees and company interact, there will still be an ongoing problem. That problem will be unbalanced decision-making and a culture that is reactive, not proactive. This is counter-intuitive to a rational, healthy business model. My suggestion is to make sure all your employees and departments understand, adapt, and execute on the same value system, and embody the culture. This is a must with senior executives and C-level officers. They have to be completely be in-line with the company’s vision and goals as well as 100% supportive of one-another. Back-stabbing, throwing someone else under the bus or even just talking badly about one of their peers is not healthy.
A well-defined company culture creates balance; Balance creates a proactive workforce, and a healthy company well positioned for growth. Executives at the top are serving everyone of their employees and business units to ensure maximum growth and pristine corporate health.
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Photo Credit: HubSpot
Original Article Published by Huffington Post