Culture plays a prominent role in the success of any organisation. After all, unhealthy work culture can promote stress, anxiety, and unacceptable behaviour amongst employees. This situation can lead to higher turnover rates and low productivity.
Many leaders have learnt how to prevent a toxic work environment. By creating a good company culture, leaders can motivate employees, foster teamwork, raise productivity, and help their organisation reach its goals more effectively.
Unfortunately, some leaders fail to achieve this due to common mistakes occurring while building company culture. It is why it’s essential to familiarise yourself with these errors so you can find effective ways to avoid them in your organisation:
Setting Unclear or Complicated Company Values
Without clearly defined company values, it is difficult for employees to assess their behaviours, as they have no point of reference. Hence, it’s paramount that you establish clear company values so people can easily distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable practices. Additionally, try to limit your number of company values and explain them in simple terms so that employees can easily recall them.
Failing to Plan and Be Proactive
One of the most common mistakes leaders can make is being reactive rather than proactive. They might wait for problems before moving to improve their company culture.
However, a culture program can’t reach its full potential when implemented solely to fix a problem. To create a great culture, you need to view it as part of your organisational strategy.
Remember: no matter how good your strategy is, a toxic workplace can lead to disastrous results. During your planning process, explore the attitudes and behaviours that will help employees fulfil your company’s purpose, values, and goals.
Not Communicating with Employees
After you’ve made your plans, inform employees of the measures you want to apply. Failing to communicate your intentions will make it difficult to put your desired culture into practice. After all, employees can’t reshape workplace culture if they’re unaware of expectations. Additionally, failing to get employee feedback before implementing measures they should know about may cause backlash later.
Applying “Band-Aid” Solutions to Improve Culture
Some leaders think team-building exercises and material amenities—like game rooms and new coffee machines—will instantly improve their company culture. However, these are only “band-aid” solutions that fail to address the roots of their problems.
As mentioned in a previous section, building a great culture requires careful planning. Unfortunately, there are no quick solutions or shortcuts to be taken to achieve this.
Being Too Serious or Negative
While creating a better company culture should be taken seriously, and avoid being too sombre, or negative in your approach. Remember that good company culture helps employees feel comfortable and welcomed rather than anxious and stressed.
So, always prepare for potential challenges, but keep a positive outlook when it comes to the growth of your company’s culture. You should also maintain an amiable personality and allow yourself to smile or laugh once in a while.
Making Bad Hiring Decisions
The technical skills of a candidate are important considerations during the hiring process, but neglecting their compatibility with your company culture can prove fatal. Even if you’ve found a competent applicant with amazing skills, their values, personality, and work ethic may not be a good fit for your culture. Remember, skills can always be learned, but personality is more challenging to change.
Assigning Accountability for Culture to Another Party
Company leaders should be held accountable for the culture within their organisation. That said, it might be tempting to assign another party to oversee the development of workplace culture. While departments like Human Resources can help by providing useful resources, they can’t be solely responsible for workplace culture. Instead, leaders must be the ones setting the example and formulating strategies for effective change.
Not Seeking the Advice of an External Partner
Although leaders are accountable for culture, they should still seek another perspective when assessing their company’s current situation. Failing to get a second opinion from an external partner is a common mistake and one that often produces ineffective cultural change. It’s hard to get an unbiased perspective of a culture you are a part of, as you may have unknowingly adopted certain behaviours or attitudes. Hence, it’s necessary to ask for the perspective of a third party.
Focusing on Only One Aspect of the Company’s Culture
When assessing company culture, a common mistake is focusing on only one aspect. But just because your employees are getting along doesn’t mean that company culture needs no further improvement.
That is why it’s not enough to only focus on engagement surveys, as they will only give you insight into employees’ emotions. Other aspects of culture should also be considered, such as collective behaviours and attitudes.
Failing to Continuously Improve Company Culture
Cultivating a positive company culture is not something done overnight, nor is it a one-time endeavour. One big mistake that leaders can make is failing to improve their workplace culture on an ongoing basis.
Even after successfully implementing your plans, you will need to maintain culture over a long period. Keep promoting your company mission and values, stick to techniques that have worked well in the past, and continue to find ways to improve existing systems.
Familiarising yourself with the mistakes above is the first step to ensuring that your culture development process goes smoothly. While this takes time and patience, the results are well worth the effort. With a thorough plan, the right attitude, a positive mindset, and constructive feedback, you will soon be creating a culture that you and your employees can be proud to be in.