Definitions of company culture have changed so radically over the last decade that it is almost tempting to dismiss the whole concept as outdated, along with the wordy mission statements that used to adorn the office walls. In a modern digital workplace, where many staff members work remotely (especially for the foreseeable future) and the lines of authority and strict job titles are less defined, how do you build a good company culture that’s fit for the evolving world of work?
Your company culture exists, whether you created it or not
So here’s the thing. Your company already has a culture. It is made up of the answers to the question, “How do we do things around here?” Your employees reflect it in the words they use to tell their friends about the company. It is apparent in the reputation you have among job-seekers. And your customers experience your culture whenever they interact with your staff, website, or product.
It’s therefore much better to be deliberate about what you want your company culture to be. And if you’re going to build a culture fit for the evolving world of work, your culture should be agile.
Be more agile
Success in modern business means reacting to environmental changes swiftly and with agility, rather than sticking to strict plans. When a new challenge presents, your teams should collaborate on solving problems and moving the project forward. This requires both a new cultural mindset, and the right technology to facilitate better sharing and collaboration.
Adjusting to this type of culture will be easier for some than others, so it’s worth taking the time to help those who struggle with change to adapt to a different culture.
Use the right tech
Focusing on the positive aspects of agile working can help the sceptics adapt. Rather than frame the environment as unpredictable, emphasise the varied work opportunities that fast and agile collaboration can bring to the job. Support this style of working with effective technology that handles document flow, sharing and storage, along with shared calendars and workflows, so that struggling team members will begin to feel more positive and secure.
Allow more autonomy
Agile working gives staff a greater sense of autonomy. Because activities are focused on outcomes, rather than following a process, team members often have more leeway to make fast decisions based on their own judgement – within reasonable boundaries, of course. It is worth identifying where you can allow people more responsibility while building in checkpoints to safeguard the business. Employees with a greater sense of autonomy usually perform better and rise to the expectation that they will act responsibly.
Do you still need a mission statement?
While the idea of a formally worded mission statement might not resonate with a fast-moving modern company, the reason for creating it remains as valid as ever. It gives you a starting point for defining what your company is all about and what you stand for. Up and coming generations in the workplace put a high value on working for companies that have a genuinely moral and society enriching purpose – choosing it even over higher pay.
Crafting a short and clear purpose statement is enormously valuable, giving you a benchmark for measuring new projects against. To ask, ‘does this opportunity further our purpose?’ will enable new employees to be quickly orientated or to decide if the culture is not for them. It will create a sense of pride and belonging among those who share it.
Communication is the key
Cultivating company culture is like growing a garden. Leave it for a season, and it will revert back to the wild. To counteract this, continually affirm the features of your agile culture through your onboarding process, refresher training for old hands, through company newsletters and events, and by publicly rewarding staff who embody your culture.