Creating a successful company requires more than having the right product or service. You need the right people at the helm and in every other position in the firm. In the past, recruitment followed the “scattergun” approach, with the idea being the more applicants you screened, the better the chance you’d hire the right person.
Today, we’ve realized the folly in that notion. To attract the right candidates and then retain key talent, we need to create an optimum company culture. And, when it comes to larger companies, that culture must resonate with applicants in varying geographic areas.
How do you do that, though? It can be challenging, but we’ll explore some of the key considerations below.
It might sound strange to recommend a culture that focuses on individual autonomy in a workplace where collectivism should be the rule. However, understand that with autonomy comes a sense of control and belonging. Your employees feel valued, but they also feel empowered. That empowerment leads directly to better engagement levels, talent retention, and churn reduction.
So, how do you increase autonomy in the workplace? There are quite a few things that can be done. Some may not be a good fit for all businesses, so you’ll need to take a long, hard look at the possibilities, and then strategize about which ones would work better for your business.
- Ask for the opinions of your employees. Let them know that you value what they think. However, don’t limit yourself to just soliciting feedback – implement the best of what your team offers up. Even if one employee’s ideas aren’t used, the fact that you’re implementing thoughts and suggestions from the team as a whole empowers everyone.
- Free up the schedule. Allowing your employees to set their own schedule might feel a little strange, particularly if your firm is very 9-to-5 focused. However, it can empower your workers and deliver a better sense of control, which fosters more autonomy and success.
- Deconstruct your processes. Chances are good that they weren’t developed specifically for your company anyway, so tear them down. In their place, let employees create their own through their expertise, insight, and experience.
Create a Sense of Psychological Safety
If your workplace isn’t a place of psychological safety, your employees will always try to play it safe. That might sound like a good thing. After all, less risk equals less chance of failure and lost ROI. Sadly, it also means no innovation, no learning, no development, no change, and no growth.
Creating a sense of psychological safety in the workplace isn’t all that hard, but you will need to take some specific steps. These include the following:
- Don’t Blame – When employees start trying new things, innovating, and experimenting, things are going to go wrong. You need to see this as part of the cost of growth. Don’t blame when something goes awry. By doing this, you build a sense of trust, but also self-confidence. When employees aren’t afraid to innovate, they’ll push the envelope, moving the entire company forward.
- Nix the Negativity – Negativity is natural to some extent, but it is a culture killer. That’s particularly true when it comes to psychological safety in the workplace. If employees hear you being negative about someone and what they have done, do you think they’re going to go out on a limb themselves? Negativity also spreads throughout the workplace and contaminates your culture. Nix it and do it now.
- Be Engaged – Whether we’re talking about your morning huddle or department meetings, you need to show the team that you’re engaged. Make eye contact. Ask follow-up questions. Ignore emails and phone alerts so that you can be part of the conversation. Engage with them and show that you are present and involved.
Communication and Feedback
No company culture can transcend geographic (and cultural) boundaries if communication isn’t baked in from the very beginning. Open, direct communication is the very foundation for a positive company culture. However, it can be hard to understand what this means in a business-wide sense, so we’ll spell it out with a few critical tips:
- Two-Way – For communication to be a key part of your company culture, it must flow both ways. Communicate with your team, but make sure you’re open to them communicating with you.
- Actively Listen – Don’t brush off thoughts, ideas, or concerns from your team members. That’s not communicating; it’s stonewalling.
- Incorporate – When a team member gives you feedback, take time to analyze it. Is it on point? Is it valuable? Would it have a positive effect? Then you need to incorporate that feedback. Doing so shows that you hear and value the information that’s coming to you.
Value Your People
Finally, make sure that you value your people not just for what they bring to the company or the team, but for who they are. Create a culture that values every individual for their authentic selves. This is hard to do, particularly for disconnected leaders and managers.
After all, if Angela is great at number crunching in the accounting department, then that’s her primary value to the business, right? If you want to create a thriving company culture, you need to learn to look beyond the immediate value that Angela brings to the table. What else is there to value here?
- Her sense of humor?
- Her ability to listen to others and make them feel heard?
- Her willingness to go the extra mile to help make things easier on someone else?
These all tie into Angela’s authentic self and should be seen and valued in the company.
Designing a Culture for Success
In today’s world, it’s not enough to have a great product or service. You need to have a great company, and that begins with your culture. This is particularly true if you do business across geographic boundaries or are thinking about expanding into new regions. A thriving company culture will help ensure that you’re able to attract and retain key talent, but also give you a powerful competitive edge.