Every CEO Needs a Coach - Interview with Eric Schmidt
10 Ways to Build a Healthy Culture
One of the most important responsibilities of any leader is to create and manage a culture within which people can prosper. A healthy culture is a strong positive force that will hold an organization together during difficult times, boosting morale and productivity. Conversely when the work environment is unhealthy, office politics, gossip and confusion will interfere with even your top performers succeeding.
Focusing on this "softer" side of your business is less tangible, and requires a different skill set, than working on your business strategy. But a healthy culture is perhaps the most sustainable benefit that you can bring your organization. It is your people that make the difference, and their creativity that will ensure your success.
As the leader your behavior sets the tone for the entire organization. Use the following points as a checklist to make certain that you are doing all you can to get the most from your organization.
1. Building a Shared Vision
A compelling and clear vision will keep your organization focused and motivated. By building your vision in a collaborative way, you build a shared understanding and commitment to business goals. Your vision defines the foundation of the culture, and your values will permeate what you create.
2. Over Communicate
Over communicate the vision, company values, business strategy, your successes and challenges. Over communicate on everything that impacts your employees. If politics and gossiping are rife in your organization, increase your communication. Employees, at all levels, need to comprehend where they stand and how they can contribute to the organizations success.
3. Recruit for Consistent Values
When it comes to hiring, make sure that you check for a cultural fit. During the interview cycle, ask behavioral questions that will lead candidates to reveal their true operating style and personal values. The cost of a bad hire is too great and mistakes will impact the entire team typically taking months to resolve.
4. Accept and Respect Diversity
By diversity we mean more than differences in nationality or gender. In a healthy culture there will be a wide variety of differences, and these differences can fuel creativity, as well as conflict. If you act respectfully then your employees will follow your lead. You need to model respectful behavior and create an environment where people respect each other and collaborate together.
5. Support Learning
Much has been written about the learning organization and the competitive advantage this approach brings. This approach is much more than just investing in training and other forms of employee development. It is about creating an environment where people are willing to share and be open with each other and where they learn from successes and failure. Provide opportunities for people to grow by encouraging them to take risk, and at times make mistakes.
6. Hold People Accountable
Set clear and realistic goals and then hold people accountable to their commitments. If people understand the goal and believe it is realistic they will be motivated to achieve it. Goal setting should be a collaborative process that creates buy in and alignment.
7. Collaborate and Build Teams
A healthy culture has a cohesive feel to it. It becomes cohesive because people build links across the organization and find opportunities to collaborate with each other. To achieve this goal the leader needs to value and support teamwork. Build alliances and facilitate relationships within your team, internally and externally. Support and sponsor other people's ideas and initiatives. You are their leader, which means at times you need to follow them.
8. Be Open to Feedback
Feedback may be used to reinforce a behavior that is considered to be positive as well as to change a behavior that is considered to be negative. As the leader you have a responsibility to create an environment where giving and receiving constructive feedback is considered the norm. Healthy effective teams regularly exchange feedback between all team members. Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses? An objective assessment is at the heart of moving forward.
9. Build Trust
If you want your employees and peers to trust you, you need to first trust them. To trust in their ability to succeed, even when they don't quite have faith in themselves. Holding high standards and expectations will encourage people to stretch and grow.
10. Acknowledge and Celebrate
On a regular basis, take the time to acknowledge the accomplishments of individuals and teams. Plan meaningful ways to recognize contributions. Celebrating doesn't have to be about parties, even though this is one way to show your appreciation. You can celebrate by personally thanking or rewarding individuals, and teams, that have make contributions. Praise is always welcomed, so long as it is sincere, so express your appreciation regularly.
Awareness of a problem is the first and most important step towards resolving it. All of the issues above can be addressed effectively within teams, but getting support from an outside consultant may be more effective.