3 strategies for CEOs to improve corporate culture

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Lately, corporate culture has been in the news for all the wrong reasons – first with the Wells Fargo scandal, and second, with the violent treatment of a passenger on a United Airlines flight. But, for every company whose culture has been challenged, there’s a Southwest Airlines whose employee-centric mantra and spirit of inclusion inspire teams to go the extra mile for customers; there is also a Quicken Loans including “isms“or cultural values ​​- like” simplicity is great “and” yes before no “- have led the company to become one of the fastest growing online mortgage lenders, let alone one of the Fortune magazines top 10 best companies to work for.

Related: 4 Fundamental Tips for Creating a Viable Company Culture

In successful businesses, the culture goes beyond free yoga classes, gourmet meals, and other perks. It’s about creating a work environment based on shared values ​​and principles – ideals so deeply rooted in the organization’s DNA that they become intrinsic to day-to-day decisions. It’s about creating a business where people can thrive and develop collectively, and are driven to do a good job, a better job, which in turn translates into greater customer satisfaction and satisfaction. better performance. Culture is essentially the glue that holds a business together, and like the most important things in a business, it starts at the top with the CEO. So what are some strategies CEOs can adopt to improve corporate culture?

Listen more, talk less.

When you’re busy running a business, it’s easy to miss what’s happening on the front line. Would things at Wells Fargo have been any different if leaders had truly listened to their employees and understood the pressures they were under to meet sales targets? Employees experience the culture of the organization on a daily basis, and if something goes wrong, they are the first to know – which is why it is so important to listen to what they are saying.

Start up web design Square space keeps the pulse of the organization by maintaining a flat and open culture where there are minimum levels of management between staff and executives. This gives employees the confidence to freely express their opinions.

It is important to encourage open dialogue. At MetricStream, I keep a stuffed elephant in my office. This is a reminder that I encourage team members to “put the elephants on the table”. You can consider conducting surveys to gather employee feedback, speaking to your staff face to face, or establishing hotlines where people can report grievances and concerns without fear of being targeted.

Related: Why Office Communication Is Highly Appreciated And Often Ignored

As you listen, pay attention to subtext, nonverbal cues. Employees can tell you one thing, but their expressions and gestures can mean the opposite. Are they afraid to tell the truth and if so what does it say about your culture? Likewise, when sending out surveys, note how many people responded or how many questions were ignored. In team meetings, observe how people interact: do they seem engaged, do they ask questions? These signals provide important information about your organization’s culture and its alignment with company values.

Finally, reward employees who speak up and raise issues. Invite them to question your thoughts and bring a diversity of ideas and opinions to the table. When employees feel heard and know their concerns are noted, they will be more engaged, productive and innovative. And you, as a leader, will be able to build a stronger, more cohesive culture.

Favor collaboration.

At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Japanese 4×100-meter relay team achieved a unexpected victory when he defeated the North American sprinting legends to win the silver medal. None of the four Japanese have been as fast as American Justin Gatlin or Canadian Andre De Grasse. However, what they lacked in speed they made up for with teamwork and seamless stick changes which ultimately gave them the advantage.

Renowned leadership expert Ken Blanchard once said, “None of us are as smart as all of us. . . “Effective leaders understand this vision. They know that the best corporate cultures are created when people work as a single unit towards common goals and values ​​- when individual contributions come together to lead to collective achievement.

Related: 4 Ways To Improve Your Workplace Culture

However, fostering a spirit of collaboration in today’s dispersed global organizations can be difficult. Many leaders limit collaboration to specific projects rather than seeing it as the foundation of a successful organization. But, there are others who understand that one of the most basic human needs is to belong – and when employees feel like a valued member of a team working together towards a meaningful goal, they tend to be more innovative and more efficient. , and satisfied.

Collaboration does not happen by accident, however. It takes a strong, sustained strategy and roadmap. Start by helping employees realize the importance of collaboration, not only in achieving organizational goals, but also in realizing their own unique potential. Create a work environment of trust and respect where employees are free to express themselves. Invite them to work through silos with other teams and functions. And finally, establish metrics that can measure and improve the level of collaboration. These initiatives go a long way in building a business where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Encourage risk-taking.

As someone who has spent much of their life taking risks, both as an individual and as the CEO of a company, I have learned that the most successful companies are those that do not. are not afraid to take risks. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki put it well when she said, “Life doesn’t always give you the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. . . . The opportunities, the good ones, are messy, confusing and hard to recognize. They are risky. They challenge you.

Good leaders know that the only way to seize these opportunities is to establish a culture of risk-taking where employees across the organization are empowered to experience and challenge the status quo. At MetricStream, one of our greatest innovations to date – the M7 GRC platform and applications – is the cumulative result of teams across the organization pushing the boundaries of technology to boldly go where little, if any, GRC companies have gone before.

Related: The Primary Purpose Of A CEO Should Be To Improve Company Culture

A strong culture of risk taking is especially important in an ever-changing world. If you want to innovate, transform, and disrupt, you must inspire your employees to take these leaps of faith. And it starts with speaking. When employees see their leaders taking smart risks, they will follow suit.

It’s also about making informed decisions. Employees need to understand the risks they are taking. Encourage them to spend time measuring and analyzing the possible risks of their decisions so that they are prepared and ready for the results. Establish milestones, checkpoints and controls to make sure risks don’t get out of hand. And finally, let employees know that it’s okay if the risks they take don’t always work. When Google’s much-publicized wave failed, then-CEO Eric Schmidt Recount journalists: “Remember, we celebrate our failures. It’s a business where it’s only okay to try something very difficult, fail and learn from it.

Culture is not something that happens. Like anything worth it, it takes time, effort, and commitment. Take a leaf from Asana’s book. The technology company treats culture as a product which, like any application or software, requires design, testing, debugging, etc. Representatives from across the company meet regularly to take stock of the company’s values ​​and identify new ways to integrate those values ​​into the company. They also collect user feedback on what works well and what doesn’t. Unsurprisingly, the company was recently named one of the Contractorthe best corporate cultures of 2017.

At the end of the day, companies like Asana know that culture isn’t just a ‘good to have’. It is as important as the product or service you are selling; because when you have a strong, cohesive culture, you have happy employees. And when you have happy employees, you have higher productivity, happier customers, and bigger profits.

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