Culture and values have recently experienced a growth spurt in business. They previously weren’t taken too much into consideration for a while, but now are being revived; and with good reason. Our work patterns and routines are so much more than just making money… as we spend roughly a third of our lives at work, these patterns influence and permeate the different areas of our leisure lives as well.
As a business owner, it is also worth remembering that the culture of your business, along with the values your team members possess, all play an important part in the success – or failure – of both your team and your company.
A Strong Company Foundation
The essence of your business is made up of the same things present in the personality of each person… its culture and values. If you want a strong company, you need to ensure you have a strong culture and the right values, both aligned together.
So, what is the difference between culture and values… and what exactly are they?
Values are those beliefs you stand by, no matter what. Standard values include being honest and trustworthy, helping others, positivity, encouraging others… basically those things that make a company worth working for. Other values include integrity, your customer focus, innovation, being result driven etc.
Culture is defined as a set of characteristics that sets one group from another. It is what dictates our day to day behaviour. It is our learned behaviour; often defined as our human nature. For example, this could mean our willingness to use words instead of fists, when discussing, debating and arguing etc.
The military have a definite set of values and an extremely strong culture. Their values are enforced every day, via rules, regulations and in their education system…and this leads to a strong culture.
In a company your culture is usually set out by your roles and procedures (both written and unwritten), work ethic and dress code etc.
How Values and Culture go Together
Continuing with the military example, they take their abstract principles (values) and translate them into a strong culture (by the routine in their daily life patterns and how the soldiers behave etc).
It is important, as the head of your company, that you live by these principles to help build a strong culture… this means you have to lead by example. If customer service is important to you, what systems and procedures do you have in place to ensure you’re always giving great customer service? When you’re interacting with both your staff and customers, do you treat them with respect?
You may want to nurture an environment that encourages innovation and creative flair, but have your office space segmented into cubicles or separate offices… essentially cutting people off from interaction and creativity. Open plan offices are great for extroverts… but introverts will suffer, as they prefer peace and quiet; the seclusion a cubicle or separate office would provide.
Do you encourage spontaneous interaction in your meetings from every staff member, or do you prefer things to be more traditional and agenda defined? Does the environment and layout you are holding those meetings in provide the right stimulus for what you want?
Even the dress code you enforce can affect the work culture. A uniform or dress code dictates that everyone is seen as the same level; equal. On the other hand, a non-uniform environment allows people to highlight their differences; to be unique and individual.
Once you know your company values, along with the type of environment you wish to have in place, it them becomes easy to staff that are a good fit. You will be able to establish whether you are looking for an introvert or extroverted person, a team player or someone who’s happy being independent, a person with creative flair or a ruthless streak.
How to Put This into Practice
Establish the values you wish to run your business by, and then establish how you can create a practical method of implementing them into your work environment and structure. You can then set up your procedures and systems to ensure that all members of staff know what behaviour is expected of them, along with the values you wish to run your business by… and also be assured that you are recruiting the right staff for any positions that you need to fill.
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