If you do a Google search for ‘company culture’ you’ll get a few different definitions — but at simPRO we don’t have a culture policy as such. I don’t believe you can define it in a paragraph or three, but I like to think of it as a force or momentum that invisibly swirls around the building or company.
How is this force created?
Well, in my experience it requires:
- a mission, vision and set of values
- good leadership
1. Mission, vision and values
Every staff member needs to know and understand the purpose and goal of the business, and then its values.
We define values as the expected behaviours within the business. These behaviours are interesting. They define the culture by creating a non-negotiable set of expectations set by the company as a whole.
At simPRO, these are currently printed and displayed around employees desks and the office in general, visible to everyone.
In case you’re wondering, our simPRO values are:
Integrity – We act with respect, honesty and transparency in an ethical way.
Accountability – We deliver on our promises.
Collaborative – We work together with all stakeholders to deliver exceptional service and outcomes.
Initiative – We have the courage to stand up, speak out and embrace challenges.
Fun – We enjoy what we do and celebrate achievements.
Commercial – We must be economically sustainable.
Embed your values
These company values must be made clear from the outset. At simPRO, they are made clear in the beginning with our staff induction, and then are carried on in staff meetings, performance reviews and are often quoted when making business decisions. Interestingly enough, when these values were initially formalised, every simPRO employee was given the opportunity to add their input to what they believed they should be.
When the values of a company become embedded, it creates a reference, or set of guidelines, for the entire company. If a member of the team is not adhering to a particular value then a team member, Human Resources, or the manager has something to reference. Invested staff do not like it when these values are not adhered to.
2. Emphasise good leadership
Good leadership in a business — whether it is coming from the CEO, the Executive team, or a General Manager — sets and promotes strategy and direction. There are many definitions of a good leader, and anyone can display good leadership skills or attributes.
I think a ‘people leader’ lives and breathes the company values every day, solidifying the expectation of the team. A good ‘people leader’ will motivate and coach the team either as a group or individually to do their best. If the team are happy and motivated, they will proactively assist the company in its vision. A highly performing team means that the standard of work is high and the work gets done because staff want to come to work.
Lastly, good leadership also means praising and enabling team members to do their best. A simple face-to-face “thank you” at a cafe or in a public forum like at a staff meeting is a great way to celebrate achievements. Leaders don’t take the credit but credit the team for the success.
3. Remain consistent
Consistency is important so that all employees understand that the rules, processes and values apply to everyone — there are no favourites. If everyone is swimming in the same direction then the current is strong. If the current is strong:
- you retain staff and the quality of work is high
- your team want the company to do well
- the workplace is a happy, healthy environment (increased morale).
Consistency is about credibility, and it goes both ways. The above three points have worked well for us here at simPRO. The best thing we’ve done is remain open, honest and transparent. At some stage or another, an Executive has stood and faced the entire team to deliver either good or bad news. Even if something hasn’t worked, we’ve tried to be as transparent as possible, and our staff have been appreciative. We’ve made mistakes but remained honest about it. As a leader, it pays to admit your shortcomings. Keep it real.
It’s also about having a bit of fun along the way. Here at simPRO, the phrase ‘woop’ appeared. You heard right, ‘woop woop’ used randomly at any time of the day. Strange as it sounds, the phrase is introduced during staff inductions and by the end of the HR segment. For the remainder of the day, there are often a few newbies wooping around the office.
Whatever the term culture means in your business — and each workplace is unique — remain consistent, emphasise good leadership, and know and live your Mission, Vision, and Values. Your working environment will reap the benefits.