Past - After liberalization took place in India in 1991, the 90s and the early 2000s saw a huge growth in the Industrial sector. Truckloads of companies were making turnovers ranging in thousands of crores of rupees and the growth of a good number of companies envisioned India to become a huge hub of Industrial advancement.
Present – If you could check the history books, a very good number of those companies mentioned above do not even exist now. Reason – as the companies grew and the workforce increased, most of these firms in the Indian system didn’t have in place a well defined work culture. Though the companies showed rapid growth, this factor alone made it impossible to sustain the business. As a result, firms started shutting down.
So, how do you define a company culture? What makes it happen? There is no single pivotal “secret” that defines how a company culture should be made. Rather, in most cases it’s just an adaption of the work atmosphere developed with a bit of tweaking and turning.
1. Share Your Vision of The Company
Vision plays an important role in guiding the company’s values and providing it with a purpose. This orients every decision the team members make. Sharing your vision at the outset with each and every employee makes it clear to them the goal towards which they individually, and as a part of the team have to work to.
2. Create An Innovative Atmosphere
There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. And creativity opens its doors only when the person is in an atmosphere where innovation, imagination and mistakes are free to roam about. Build an atmosphere for your employees where rather than confining them to a cubicle, give them a blank sheet of paper to start afresh always.
As Milan Kundera said – “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation”.
3. Allow Mistakes. Once.
As mentioned above, whenever the floor is made open for innovation and creativity, mistakes happen. Accept that fact and move on. But at the same time make sure that the team learns from these mistakes; else the whole point becomes void.
4. Define The Decision-Making Process
Have a clear cut idea as to what decisions are taken by whom. Most of the administrative and financial decisions would obviously have to be taken by the top management. But, especially if you are a start-up, you may not know everything regarding the completion of a project or the different stages included in it. Respect the decision making ability of your employees and based on the situation give them the freedom to take decisions.
5. Share Responsibilities
No one said a company can attain growth at the helms of a one man army. Learn to trust your employees and team members and just as they should be made part of the decision-making process, share work responsibilities with them. This helps you focus on the more important and long term factors – growth and innovation.
6. Ask Questions. Don’t Guess Answers.
One of the main HR issues faced in most organizations is that the employees guess what the company’s goals are and the company guesses what the problems its employees might be facing. Make “Asking Questions” an integral part of your culture. The more questions you ask, the more answers shall you receive and the less space there is for communication gap.
7. Value Staff Opinions
It’s seen in many organizations that certain top level executives pay no heed to the suggestions put forth by their employees. They engulf themselves in a cocoon of the misconception that since they are the seniors, they know more than the staff. Get rid of such attitude. You never know from where a million dollar or life changing idea might pop up.
Also, all employees expect their opinions to be valued and given consideration. These work better than shutting them up and giving them a salary raise! Monetary benefits aren’t the only reason your employees work.
8. Hire Smart. Fire Fast.
Hiring the wrong people can affect your organization negatively. Just like a rotten apple spoils the basket, one rotten employee can change the attitude of your whole team. Throw such people out ASAP.
9. Be Flexible To Change
You must be ready to flex your policies to better suit the needs of the employees. Make them feel secure, else you risk creating an environment ruled by fear and hostility that shuns innovation.
Celebrate any and every occasion you get. Birthday – awesome! Someone buys a new car – fantastic! The marketing guy makes a company record of sealing 11 clients a month – magnificent!
Don’t let your work-space be a monotonous place the employees feel a cringe to come to everyday. Bring out the fun factor. Let them expect the unexpected everyday they come to the office, in a good way that is.
11. Embrace The Gaps in Culture
Accept the fact that no matter what you do, there will be cultural gaps in your organization. You may not have all your employees interested in celebrating their birthday. Not all would like to hang on over a game of PS3 during lunch. Rather than forcing your culture upon the gaps, try strengthening the positives so much so that the negatives/gaps become minuscule and out of the frame. That’s where your success lies.
Especially for the start-ups out there, no one’s asking you to build a culture like the one over at Southwest Airlines. But all said, it wouldn’t hurt either. No one hates extra icing on the cake.
- Vijay S Paul
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