There is good news…you don’t have to DO anything to create culture. It’s being done whether you are conscious about it or not.
And that’s the problem. Are you even aware of what you’ve created? Naivety and ignorance are not excuses for creating a sucky place to work.
- Your employees are talking.
- Your customers are talking.
- Your vendors are talking.
Do you know what they are saying? There is more good news! If people are talking you can learn from what they are saying and correct it, improve it or leave it alone.
The problem is when you have silence. What is NOT being said is killing your company!
- You have top employees leave and you don’t know why. That costs your company millions of dollars.
- You have low performers stay and you don’t know why. That costs your company even more.
Not sure where to start fixing your culture?
Ask your new employees to share their first impression experiences. You will gain powerful insight into how your company is run and where you can improve. New employees are seeing your company for the first time. They are eager to make a difference and want to contribute their fresh perspectives. New employees are not caught up in “things have always been done that way” or “I’m too busy to notice” mindsets that all too often plague our teams.
You won’t want to act on ALL of their ideas at once so you can have them select what is really important after a brief “waiting period.”
Jim Bankoff, Chairman and CEO of Vox Media, utilizes this technique of new employe perspectives to strengthen his company. Ronald Barba wrote about a recent Tech Cocktail DC Session with Bankoff, in which he shared ideas about how he creates company culture:
[…]a perfect match between culture and individuals is unrealistic, and not everyone is going to fit in fully with the dynamics of the company – and that’s fine, according Bankoff. Whenever someone new joins Vox Media, [Bankoff] asks them to write down their expectations for their job as well as their expectations of the company. After a week or month, he asks these people to write down everything they think is messed up with the company, put that in an envelope, and read over it again in six months. At the end of six months, he encourages people to come to him and be direct about what they think are still prevalent issues. He does this because he truly believes creating the right culture is essential to the survival of the company, which he admits wasn’t always a priority for him. “I didn’t understand what ‘culture’ meant…earlier in my career. As I’ve grown – and certainly as I’ve grown as a leader – I now recognize that it’s everything[…]
For Bankoff, if companies don’t allow their cultures to keep up with their talent/people, then they inevitably become irrelevant:
“It’s important…that a culture has to continue to evolve in order to remain relevant and not gets trapped in its own success[…]
You are an important part of your company, but no matter how open-minded you are, you are still only one person with one unique perspective. Don’t be scared to ask your new hires for their fresh insights.