What Leaders Should Know About Company Culture

Guest post from Michael Lee Stallard:
Company
culture is a hot topic among today’s leaders, and rightfully so. Because it
influences how colleagues relate, or fail to relate, to each other, culture
affects the effectiveness of teams and business units, ultimately influencing
the bottom line.
But company
culture can be an intimidating topic for many leaders because they lack a
framework and language to discuss the phenomenon they see happening in their
organizations every day.
The
following terms can help you to better grasp what company culture is, how to
influence it, and the type of culture dominant in your organization.
The Three Types of Social Culture
When we
discuss company culture, we are really discussing a social culture, meaning the
norms for how members in a group relate to each other.
Since social
culture ultimately comes down to relationships, company cultures tend to fall
into one of three categories:
1.
Culture of Control – In this type of culture, people with
power, influence and status rule over others. It creates an environment where
people fear to make mistakes and take risks. It is stifling – killing
innovation before people are afraid to speak up. Employees may feel left out,
micromanaged, unsafe, hyper-criticized, or helpless.
2.
Culture of Indifference – In this type of culture, people are
so busy chasing money, power, and status that they fail to invest the time
necessary to develop healthy, supportive relationships. As a result, leaders
don’t see value in the relational nature of work, and many people struggle with
loneliness. Employees may feel like a cog in a machine, unimportant, uncertain,
or invisible.
3.
Connection Culture – In a connection culture, people care
about others and care about their work because it benefits other human beings.
They invest the time to develop healthy relationships and reach out to help
others in need, rather than being indifferent to them. This bond helps overcome
the differences that historically divided people, creating a sense of
connection, community, and unity that is inclusive and energized, and spurs
productivity and innovation.
Creating a Healthy Culture
As evidenced
by the descriptions, the third type of social culture listed above is most
likely to result in long-term success for both individual employees and the
company as a whole. So how can you foster a healthy, connected culture?

 

It’s
important to note that connection cultures do not all “look” the same. Each
company will have its own unique practices and traditions. Having a foosball
table in your break room, a casual dress policy or a “flat” corporate structure
are not requirements. 
Instead,
leaders should focus on strengthening the following elements of a connection
culture:
1.
Vision – A great company culture has a strong sense of purpose.
Why do your employees show up every day? Do they understand the end goal of
their work?
2.
Value – Great company cultures also value people for who they
are, not simply for what they do. Build meaningful relationships with your
employees, and give them opportunities to build relationships with each other.
3.
Voice – Giving people a voice, although not necessarily a vote,
in decisions creates a healthy dialogue and allows important insights to flow
up and down the chain of command.
By
strengthening vision, value, and voice in your organization, you will help your
employees build stronger connections and create an environment where people and
ideas thrive.
To get
started, take this
nine-question
culture quiz
to gauge what type of social culture is dominant in your
organization today.
Michael Lee Stallard, president of E Pluribus Partners and
cofounder of 

ConnectionCulture.com, speaks,
teaches and coaches on leadership, organizational culture and employee
engagement. He is the author of 
Connection
Culture
 and Fired Up or Burned Out. Follow him on his blogTwitterFacebookGoogle+ or LinkedIn.