When it comes to crafting a company culture, there are no shortcuts to success. A quality culture starts from the ground up, and is often a reflection of the company’s founders or directors.
If the founders and managers possess the characteristics of an effective leader, then often the other pieces fall into place. However, if you find that your company culture is showing signs of toxicity, here are some steps you can take to try and turn things around.
Take Care of Your Employees
Often the reason employees have a negative attitude towards their employer is due to a feeling of being overworked and underappreciated. Giving employees the impression that they are just another cog in the wheel, and are replaceable fosters a culture of fear and resentment. With that in mind, it is important to treat your workers with respect and to communicate to them both personally and financially that their service and presence is valued. Award initiative, recognize good work and get to know your employees on more than just a professional level. Showing that you care about your subordinates as people outside of the workplace can go a long way toward fostering loyalty and morale inside the company.
Understand Your Employees
While emotional motivation is an important part of employee satisfaction, not all people are motivated by this sort of affirmation. Many are more financially driven and focus primarily on the monetary benefits that a company provides. In the case of these types of individuals, it is important to evaluate the long-term viability of their situation. Is their desire for compensation going to outweigh your ability to pay them long-term?
People who are primarily money-motivated are likely to be dissatisfied with their compensation in a small, cash-strapped business, and it is important to bear this in mind as a business owner or manager. One malcontent employee can have a ripple effect on the collective attitude of employees, so it important to keep a close eye on these types of employees to ensure that they don’t have a negative impact on your carefully crafted culture. Being finance-focused is not always a negative trait however, as it can be a powerful motivator and those types of employees may play an instrumental role in advancing and growing your company. Just don’t let a productive motivator become a demotivating force.
Hire the Right Managers
With the need to understand and care for employees, it is important to have managers in place that have the ability to identify potential issues and act proactively to avoid them, and preserve a positive culture. Often the people who start the company, the visionaries, are not the ones to be “people wranglers”. Many companies will fill these positions based on seniority, but it is important to factor in the emotional intelligence of a potential manager. It is absolutely essential for a supervisor to be able to understand, relate to, and effectively motivate their staff. This is the reason many companies have placed tremendous value on the emotional intelligence of employees.
Celebrate Small Victories and Provide Incentives
Regardless of the main motivational factors for your staff, almost everyone appreciates incentives. These can come in many forms and will differ from company to company, but the concept behind providing them remains the same. Make your workers feel appreciated and celebrate small successes and the passing of milestones. Anything you can do to communicate to your staff that you’re in it together and that their efforts are appreciated can go a long way toward positive motivation. Whether it’s a gift card, donuts on Friday, an employee of the month plaque or any number of other gestures, find something to show them how much you care.
The recipe to creating a quality company culture is a combination of the right people, the right motivation and the satisfaction of your employees. If you have all three of these factors, you are well on your way to a positive work environment. How you get there is up to you.
About the Author
Kirk Kerr is an entrepreneur and small business owner. He has experienced both sides of company culture and takes pride in sharing the insights he’s gained with other business scholars.