1 Thing Managers Can Do to Stop Killing Culture

December 17, 2019

Everyday thousands of managers in both corporate and human service sectors are killing the great company culture they’re striving to create. And most of them are doing it unintentionally and unknowingly.

While the impacts of this phenomenon are shocking, the answer is easier and more cost effective than you think.

This post will offer 1 simple solution to this dilemma; plus 10 additional easy and practical strategies for developing and strengthening great organizational culture.

Important Facts about Culture, Values and Engagement

  • Close to 70% of employees are disengaged (Gallup)
  • When a company’s values are “known and understood,” employees are 51 times more likely to be fully engaged (Modern Survey)

Simple Test, Stark Reality

Without looking, can you name your company’s guiding values?

Most mid and high-level managers we ask this question of, cannot!  Several could name some of them, kind of.  Others made close guesses and, a handful could not name even one, accurately.

These managers do care about their people and their companies. They come by this dilemma honestly and unintentionally.

Why We Should Be Very Concerned

Culture can only be developed, strengthened and sustained in two ways;

  1. Through a Shared Language and;
  2. Through a Set of Shared Values in Practice.

Stop and think about this for a moment; like really think about this. Values that can’t be named, can’t be claimed. Without shared values in practice, it is impossible for a desired culture to survive, never mind thrive.

If we can’t name them, we can’t communicate them, or put them into practice, purposefully or with intention.

Therefore, it is impossible for a great company culture to be developed and sustained if the people identified as the leaders, responsible for developing, transmitting and strengthening that culture can’t even name the guiding foundational values.

Every day thousands of managers behave in ways that are not always congruent with organizational values.

This accidental and 100% preventable phenomenon negatively impacts absolutely everyone and everything; at all levels of the organization, including but not limited to:

  • Leader-member trust and relationships;
  • Employee motivation and engagement;
  • Effective and efficient communication;
  • Individual and team performance and;
  • Top and bottom line results.

In addition to the costs associated with the above areas, there are social, emotional and psychological costs for humans also. Value-incongruence represents a major employee engagement killer and the costs to people, productivity and profit are massive.

A Simple Solution

Get to know the company values. That’s it!

Most companies maintain, on average, between 3 to 8 foundational values. The return on investment (ROI) is massive compared to the minimal effort and energy required to learn and remember them.

No longer can we ignore the research and the feedback from millions of employees. Knowing and living company values translates into greater employee engagement, and organizational commitment; optimal performance and; preferred employee, client and customer outcomes.

Knowing and living company values is the only way to develop, strengthen and sustain great company culture.

Without looking to the wall or to the company website, can you name your company’s foundational and/or guiding values?

Additional Suggestions for Developing and Strengthening Great Culture

Knowing the values is the simplest, yet most important, step for creating and converting on great company culture.

The following list offers simple and low-cost ways to leverage guiding values in the pursuit and attainment of a preferred company culture:

  • Make knowing and living the values a company priority;
  • Mandate as a performance area, that managers know and understand the values;
  • Ensure that values are visible and accessible to all employees; especially in places where they work and gather;
  • Ensure clear and consistent communication/messaging of values;
  • Learn how to translate values into action;
  • Review values in individual supervision and performance sessions;
  • Review the values at team meetings;
  • Create pocket-size value cards – place them opposite of ID card;
  • Encourage, role model and ask employees, “How have you lived the company values this week/month in your work?” (Start with one-at-a-time);
  • Develop a team/unit charter made up of organizational values to guide value-based collaborations and decision making.

There are many more things that can be done – the above is offered simply, to get you started.

If you feel that this post may help someone you know, please share it. 

If you would like to strengthen your company culture, please contact us. We’d love to help. 

You can also check out some of our Culture Solutions Here (Corporate) and Here (Human Services).

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