100 Strategies To Improve Company Culture For Office, Wfh & Remote Teams
- What does Company Culture really mean?
- Strategies to improve company culture
- Strategies to improve company culture related to Everyone in the company
- 1. Trust your people
- 2. Understand their Strengths
- 3. Understand their Weaknesses
- 4. Give Opportunities for Professional Development
- 5. Mentorship Program
- 6. Celebrate Successes
- 7. Give Freebies & Treats
- 8. Be Genuinely Thankful
- 9. Get Feedback & Suggestions
- 10. Act On Feedback Received
- 11. Have Fun Also At Work
- 12. Holiday & Family Events
- 13. Contribute to Community
- 14. Discourage Office Politics
- 15. Be Transparent (5 W's)
- 16. Gamify Appreciation
- 17. Offer Competitive Pay And Benefits
- 18. Encourage Innovation
- 19. Encourage Frequent Interactions
- 20. Perks Are Not Culture
- 21. Create Culture Manifesto
- 22. Discuss Culture Regularly
- 23. Encourage Physical Fitness
- 24. Walk-&-Talk Meetings
- 25. Measure Employee Engagement
- 26. Wall of Fame
- 27. Off-Site Work Week
- 28. Lunch & Learn Presentations
- 29. Individual Tech Budget & Allowance
- 30. Look Out For New Approaches
- 31. Streamline New Ideas
- 32. Help With Financial Wellness
- 33. Ensure Projects Align With Mission And Values
- 34. Mental Health Days
- 35. No Noise Zones & Times
- 36. Expect Mistakes
- 37. Learn From Mistakes (Learning Moments)
- 38. Share Nature
- 39. Observe Non-Verbal Clues
- Strategies to improve company culture related to Executive Management Team
- 40. Deeply Understand the Why
- 41. Define Your Priorities
- 42. Prioritize Employees
- 43. Define Your Values
- 44. Encourage Competitive Thinking
- 45. Align Values With Customers
- 46. Lead By Example
- 47. Hire For Culture Add vs Fit
- 48. Great Culture Attracts Top Talent
- 49. Prioritize & Design for Diversity
- 50. Reward Employee Loyalty
- 51. Reward In Public, Coach In Private
- 52. Ensure Managers are Well Trained
- 53. Ensure Managers are Trusted By The Team
- 54. Performance Conversations, Not Evaluations
- 55. Empathize With Employees
- 56. Recognize & Acknowledge Teams
- 57. Have Tough Conversations
- 58. Make Difficult Decisions
- 59. Get Rid of Brilliant Jerks
- 60. Define inappropriate behavior
- 61. Define Unethical behavior
- 62. Communicate Harassment Policy Clearly
- 63. Keep People Accountable
- 64. Set & Support Ambitious Goals
- 65. Standardize Progress Sharing
- 66. Opportunity To Take Interview Of New Candidates
- 67. Make On-Boarding A Memorable Experience
- 68. Farewell Leaving Employees
- 69. Meeting Preparations
- 70. Invite Only Stakeholders To Meetings
- 71. Enable Confident Decisions
- 72. Ensure Guidelines Are Followed
- 73. Open-Door Policy
- 74. Avoid Time Wasting Manual Reports
- 75. Automate Your Way Out of Excel
- 76. Measure Leaders By Their People
- 77. Give Authority To Leaders
- 78. Memorialize Important Decisions
- 79. Set Expectations on Communication Methods
- Strategies to improve company culture related to Customer Facing Teams
- 80. Measure what matters
- 81. Focus On Making The Customer Successful
- 82. Assert Your Company Values
- 83. Maintain Presentation and Dressing Standards
- 84. Prevent Burn-Outs
- 85. Performance Leaderboard
- 86. Acknowledge Employees that Stood Up To Challenges
- 87. Stand-Up-Desks
- 88. Monitor & Engage On Social Channels
- Strategies to improve company culture related to Office Based Internal Team
- 89. Provide a physical space to destress
- 90. Quick Team Activities
- 91. Remote Friendly Environment
- Strategies to improve company culture related to Work From Home (WFH) Team members
- 92. Flexible Expectations Both ways
- 93. Communicate Often
- 94. Encourage Cross Functional Collaboration
- 95. Leverage Technology To Accommodate
- 96. Work Life Balance
- 97. Watercooler Conversations
- 98. Host Remote All-Hands Meetings
- 99. Remote Onboarding
- 100. Prioritize Meaningful Work
- Interactive Decision Trees & Flowcharts
- Why is it critical to get your company's Culture right?
- How do you know that your company culture is not improving?
- How can you build a strong culture with teams working remotely and not make them feel isolated?
- How much does it cost to build a strong company culture?
- Ease of use
What does Company Culture really mean?
So much has been discussed already about culture that the idea of great culture has become a cliché. Culture is what happens when no one is watching. Think of it as the personality and attitude of your organization. One meaning of company culture is a shared set of workplace beliefs, values, attitudes, standards, purposes, and behaviors. Its how things are done in the company. When done right, it is the most valuable asset for your company. Your unique culture influences the direction for your company and sets the expectations for how employees interact and how customers get treated.
At the end of the day the decisions that your people make will define the trajectory of your company. In the beginning when the company is small, everyone knows/does everything and are generally speaking, well-aligned. When organizations grow, many of the decision-making processes repeat on a regular basis but the left arm might not know what right arm is doing. This is why streamlining decision-making processes become an integral part of designing the culture of company.
Processes not only help your teams follow the best practices efficiently but when designed thoughtfully they also help your teams make difficult decisions when things are not explicitly laid out for them. Think of your company's culture as the behavior of your teams and your processes as the good habits they cultivate. Having well designed processes helps nurture a better company culture. The easier you make for your people to make decisions aligned with your company strategy, the better your culture drives your competitive advantage. Interactive decision trees and flowcharts are indispensable in making it effortless for your teams to follow guidelines and policies in just a few clicks in just a few seconds.
Strategies to improve company culture
All strategies and tips below apply in general to the whole company. These recommendations to improve company culture are separated in groups to identify the effective strategies which matter for that group the most.
Strategies to improve company culture related to Everyone in the company
1. Trust your people
When your people truly believe that their employer trusts them, they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility towards the company. You will also see that reflected in how your people treat your customers. Let your leaders make the decisions. You don't need to be copied on every email thread. Observe what happens when you do not supervise, guide or interfere - you might be surprised. There is simply no way around having trust among the teammates. People will understand that at the end of the day what matters is how much was really accomplished and not how many hours they were sitting on their desk. Also, when you trust people they often raise the bar for themselves.
2. Understand their Strengths
You want to know which one of your teams are the knights, which one are the rooks and once you know that you want to leverage their natural talents to ensure everyone wins. Playing to their strengths also gives them more confidence and they enjoy their work. Understanding where they are strongest allows them to align with the purpose and the Why of the company. Teams who know and use their strengths are more engaged, more productive and more satisfied with their work.
3. Understand their Weaknesses
No one is perfect in everything but neither should you ignore weaknesses. When you know your team's weakness, you can approach it in two ways. First, work with them and help them mitigate those weaknesses for their own personal development. Secondly, accommodate their work environment so they are not being held back by their weaknesses.
4. Give Opportunities for Professional Development
Everyone wants to grow in their professional career. When there is little or no professional growth for people they lose motivation and look for other opportunities. Also, it is only fair that when someone is good at their current function, they should be able to take on more challenging work if they want. When your organization actively works with them to plan their professional development and provides relevant training on a regular basis, you are investing in your most important asset, your people. Opportunity for growth remains the top reason people leave their job or are attracted to other job openings. Encourage your teams to change positions within your company for something they want to learn. Reimbursing employees to attend work related conferences, managerial trainings, tuition reimbursement program, giving more responsibility in current role, temporary cross-functional projects, buying books, presentation and speaking opportunities, hosting webinars, publishing articles as well as research projects are some examples in which companies can encourage professional development for their teams.
5. Mentorship Program
When experienced employees mentor less experienced employees, it strengthens the fabric of your company. Having a well managed mentorship program helps you train the next batch of leaders, identify the diamonds in the rough and makes employees more loyal to their employer.
6. Celebrate Successes
Make it a point and celebrate success milestones and achievements however small they may be. It goes a long way towards showing your appreciation for the teams. Sound the achievement gong every chance you get.
7. Give Freebies & Treats
Don't you have enough of those company t-shirts? It might be better to give them a gift card that they can use online anywhere and get a little something for themselves. Give it when there are individual achievement milestones or any team success milestones. Even if it is a small amount, it does show that you acknowledge, value and appreciate them.
8. Be Genuinely Thankful
It could always be better, but look at the glass as half full. Your company stays relevant because of the hard work and coordination by each and every team member.
9. Get Feedback & Suggestions
Create the environment where your teams feel comfortable to give honest constructive feedback. This can be a goldmine of ideas for improving just about anything about your company. Having a suggestion box is one approach.
10. Act On Feedback Received
For every person that gave critical feedback there may be many more that did not speak up. Demonstrate sincere intention to listen to the feedback and correct what needs to be corrected. This will encourage more people to step up and do the right thing and feel that their opinion counts.
11. Have Fun Also At Work
Have team building days and allow people to laugh together so they can see the lighter sides of each other. Organize happy hours, dinner treats, potluck, games and other team building activities during office hours for people to get familiar with other teams. Have the teams decide what the next team building day will look like.
12. Holiday & Family Events
In many companies it is common to have parties for getting together employees with their families around festivals like Christmas, Diwali or Chinese New Year. Some companies even have events like 'Bring your kids to work day', 'Halloween costume competition', 'Kids Academic recognition events' or even 'Day at Theme park' where the families of the teams get to know each other and have fun. This is one more way for your company to thank the families of your employees for all their hardships.
13. Contribute to Community
Whether it is volunteering for your favorite non-profit or fundraising for a natural disaster, create the environment where people can be comfortable to lead such initiatives and make a difference in their communities. A corporate donation matching program goes a long way towards demonstrating that you encourage community service. People take pride in telling their friends that their employer does great community service. Volunteer events are a great way to demonstrate community service by example.
14. Discourage Office Politics
Office politics, how ever you understand it, is a unfair disadvantage for those who do not engage in that behavior. Generally speaking there is no place for office politics, favoritism or gossip in a work environment.
15. Be Transparent (5 W's)
When decisions are made that affect people, present them with objective reasoning based on guidelines and facts. It may be difficult to avoid some subjectivity in making decisions but create an environment of responsibility and accountability for judgements and decisions. To communicate decisions to employees, address the 5 W’s - Who, What, When, Where and Why about the decision.
16. Gamify Appreciation
On a daily basis your teams go out of their way to help their colleagues. Make it easy for people to appreciate someone and say thank you. There are many solutions that allow you to gamify team appreciation. This is also one way to identify your top performers as well as otherwise
17. Offer Competitive Pay And Benefits
Your employees want to be paid fairly. Most people prefer making more money in paycheck as opposed to having one more foosball machine in the office break room. Annual pay raise only only keeps up with the inflation but also signals job stability to the employees families. Many employees appreciate the benefits they get from your group insurance plans. Spending a little more on giving a better benefits plan will keep your employees satisfied for a long term.
18. Encourage Innovation
Every organization must innovate to stay competitive. When teams innovate, they make your company more efficient. Encouraging new ideas, brainstorming sessions, lunch-and-learn, hackathons as well as thought leadership opportunities are some ways to foster innovation. Some companies go as far as allocating a percent of each employee's time for working on their innovation ideas.
19. Encourage Frequent Interactions
Strong relationships in the workplace leads to an increase in effective communication which is the most significant aspect of any successful team. This could be done with for example ongoing team activities like meetings, all-hands and new hire orientation.
20. Perks Are Not Culture
Free meals, massages, yoga classes, gym memberships, foosball tables, ping pong tables or arcade machines should not be confused with culture. Perks should be seen as occasional stress relieving activities and not something teams obsess over. Perks have nothing to do with culture as they don't guide people on how to behave at work. When these perks are provided, make it clear what your expectations are.
21. Create Culture Manifesto
At some point everyone will expect the culture to be clearly outlined in a document to it is best to start documenting your culture and regularly updating it as you go along. Keep it concise but clear enough that people know what is not aligned with your culture. Display this document as either posters or otherwise. Use some example scenarios and explain how your culture encourages one approach as opposed to the other approaches. Make some videos of company executives explaining what their culture really means in simple language.
22. Discuss Culture Regularly
Culture changes over time and these changes needs to be communicated regularly and be modeled from the top management. Also, as people come and go into your organization, you will need to have repeated discussion about what your culture means. In team meetings, let people explain what they understand to be your culture. How do you talk to customers? When communicating with each other, when is it ok to use chat, email, phone or video calls? How much time do you need to work? Is a particular dress code expected? How to manage privacy when working at home? Every one of your employees should understand how their work connects to the company’s mission and values. This will help people align with your company's values.
23. Encourage Physical Fitness
Physical fitness is directly related to happiness in general. Encourage your teams to use fitness trackers and even have team wise competitions for things like number of steps or calories burned, etc. Parking farthest, climbing the stairs and walking around the office building are some easy ways for people to release stress and keep fit.
24. Walk-&-Talk Meetings
Make it ok for small teams to have a meeting while taking a walk around the office. This not only gives physical exercise but because everyone is in a more relaxed environment, might lead to a better conversation.
25. Measure Employee Engagement
Use surveys to understand how your employee engagement is trending. This may also reflect on how your culture is changing. This may be a good way to signal your teams that you are going out of your way to listen to what they have to say.
26. Wall of Fame
Have a special webpage or a physical poster wall where you regularly post employee acknowledgements, promotions, picnic photos, Kids creations or achievements shared by employees and other such messaging which is a great way for people to have a conversation with each other as well as something to look up to.
27. Off-Site Work Week
Take the team away from their daily schedule for a week. This is great when you want to do a company All-Hands meeting or a major strategy discussion to align everyone. This gives everyone a chance to know people from other teams as well as have some fun moments together in the evenings.
28. Lunch & Learn Presentations
Make it easy for anyone to speak on a topic of their choice for 30 minutes during lunch time while everyone else is having their lunch. This helps in many ways. Everyone learns something new while the presenter gets more confident in delivering presentation as well as public speaking. This is a great way to give opportunities to develop thought leadership skills.
29. Individual Tech Budget & Allowance
Allow your people to choose their laptop, mobile phone, monitor etc for themselves as long as they stay within budget. You can also give them a monthly allowance to pay for things like mobile phone service, buying additional apps, public transport expenses, parking etc. This is a great way to allow your people to make their own choices and still keep the expenses manageable.
30. Look Out For New Approaches
Encourage your people to stay on top of new developments in their industry or academia and keep their eyes open for new approaches for addressing challenges as well as new ideas. Speaking at industry conferences or following an academic research project in a journal are some ways you can keep new ideas coming in to your company. Nothing should go on just because that is how you always did things around here.
31. Streamline New Ideas
In a environment that encourages innovation and new approaches at solving problems, new ideas start flowing on a daily basis. You need to design a deliberate framework and process in your organization to be able to systematically push these new ideas through for careful review, evaluation, funding and implementation. Having a well designed process even lets your organization identify valuable ideas worth filing patents for.
32. Help With Financial Wellness
Most people are stressed out about their finances. Financial stress leads to short temper, low productivity, absenteeism and occasionally family problems. Offering services that help employees with their financial planning and wellbeing goes a long way to helping them get their personal lives in order. This is one of those benefits that employees greatly value and appreciate.
33. Ensure Projects Align With Mission And Values
Every Project Leader must clearly identify how that project will align with and accelerate the company in the direction of the company mission and values. This is an important step to clearly understand the the context, scope and boundaries for each initiative in the company. Only after it is agreed that the project charter aligns with the company mission and values, should the project be allowed to go ahead.
34. Mental Health Days
If your company is growing rapidly, your employees will get stressed out from time to time. Encourage your people to take a day off when they need to relieve the stress. People should feel comfortable leaving early sometimes just to have a better mental health, to take care of some personal matter, to spend time on their hobby or even to just spend time with their families.
35. No Noise Zones & Times
Noise pollution as well as noisy distractions are a major reason for increased stress as well as reduced productivity. There should be a designated silent area for people to focus on task at hand without any distractions. Having a silent period every day between for example 3PM and 4PM without any calls or messages means everyone is expected to be getting things done. Buy your people noise canceling headphones to help them focus. This can be a effective way to get things done on a daily basis but your mileage may vary based on your organization.
36. Expect Mistakes
Making mistakes is completely normal and is in fact a sign of a growing organization. One caveat here is that the teams need to learn from their mistakes and share the learnings in a way that everyone else can avoid those mistakes.
37. Learn From Mistakes (Learning Moments)
Mistakes should be looked as opportunities for learning - in fact just call them Learning Moments instead. Encourage people to do a case study on a recent mistake and present it to their team, so everyone learns. This can also be great opportunity for them to learn presentation and public speaking skills. Understand how the mistake happened because of not following the company values, priorities or guidelines.
38. Share Nature
Potted plants, framed images of beautiful landscapes, inspirational messages, thought provoking paintings, white noise, large glass walls and other such features are a great way to make people happier and feel relaxed. This is a great way to help with employee productivity.
39. Observe Non-Verbal Clues
Often people express how they feel about working at your company in nonverbal ways. Are they excited to work on new tasks? Do they arrive on time for meetings? Do they socialise only with some selected individuals? Is there gossip going on? These and many more behavioral observations might lead to problems that are otherwise invisible. These problems can hurt your culture if not timely addressed.
Strategies to improve company culture related to Executive Management Team
40. Deeply Understand the Why
People align with your company not because of who works there but why your company does what it does. Understand why your company exists. Demonstrate how it aligns with the company mission and vision. In fact this sense of purpose is a particularly strong driver for millennials deciding to join your company. Explain this sense of purpose in great detail to every new hire and reiterate it for current employees on a regular basis. In fact, you should be able to ask any employee at any moment what is the purpose of their work at your company and they should be able to clearly explain their purpose aligned with the company culture and values.
41. Define Your Priorities
What is more important, profitability or growth? Clearly laying out what is most important in an order of preference can make it easy for your people to make decisions without having to take permissions for everything.
42. Prioritize Employees
When you employees are happy, your customers will also be happy. Do everything you can to make sure your employees enjoy their work and feel excited about the purpose of your company. A great culture puts the priority on the people in the company.
43. Define Your Values
Do you encourage taking risk at the cost of service reliability? Is done better than perfect? Your company values represent the deeply held beliefs and expected behaviors that guide how your people behave on a daily basis. Define what values you support so your people can align with the strategy and the vision of the company. This is not the place to generalize. Instead, be very specific about what behavior you will praise and what will not be acceptable.
44. Encourage Competitive Thinking
Make it clear that you are facing real competition in the marketplace and any idea that makes you more competitive will be seriously considered. When you do get some ideas, make a real effort in acting upon those ideas. When the employees see that their strategic ideas are being acted upon, they feel a sense of belonging and ownership towards the company. They feel that they made a real contribution to the company. When done well, each and every employee will become the watchful eye in the marketplace looking for any competitive advantage your company can have over the competitors.
45. Align Values With Customers
When your company values are aligned with the values of your best customers and partners, something magical happens. Your customers and partners will take pride in doing business with you and will spread the word. This can be a great long term growth strategy.
46. Lead By Example
Being a leader is not the same thing as being a boss. The leaders must hold themselves to the same priorities, values and guidelines as everyone else. Use every opportunity to prove that it is so. Leaders need to be the culture storytellers and speak to the teams in vulnerable and honest ways that resonate. Take the time to explain how important decisions about the company align with your values so people can learn how to apply those values in their own decision making. Set a good example.
47. Hire For Culture Add vs Fit
Easier said than done, but often candidates give clues that clearly do not align with your values or priorities. Do a gut check and pass. Like they say one bad apple can spoil the whole basket. You might want to consider contract-to-hire approach for better evaluating new candidates before bringing them onboard. Do a behavioral interview based on open ended questions, problem solving discussions as well as emotional intelligence. Don't hire merely because they fit the culture, hire them when they add to your culture. Hire people that are self-motivated and problem solvers. This is the key to organically improving your culture.
48. Great Culture Attracts Top Talent
Great culture goes a long way towards convincing the top talent to work at your company. Today candidates conduct thorough research as well as get word of mouth recommendations from their friends before they accept any job offer. If they feel that the company is a great place to work and that they will get a chance to work with a diverse set of amazing people, then they will decide to join your company even with a lesser compensation package.
49. Prioritize & Design for Diversity
A company culture of diversity and inclusion not only of different ethnicity but also of gender, skills, experience, thoughts and backgrounds is important for your company's culture. It gives your company a unique perspective, fresh ideas and new skills to face challenges. Make sure every activity in the company respectfully considers the preferences and requirements of people from all backgrounds, i.e. disabilities, dietary preferences, religious practices, etc. You might also want to explore ways to make your organization reflective of your customer base in terms of diversity.
50. Reward Employee Loyalty
Today most employees can easily find other jobs. They choose to stay with your company because they believe in why your company exists. They have also demonstrated all those years the values and the culture of your company. These are precious people with historical context around major decisions of your organization. Reward these members publicly to encourage loyalty from others. Create a system to reward employees for their hard work. Employee of the month award, bonus on work anniversaries, day off on their birthdays, employee leaderboard, complimenting employees for their contributions, highlight them on social media channels, gift a vacation voucher, paid dinner for their family and achievement trophies are some ways to reward loyalty.
51. Reward In Public, Coach In Private
When you reward and acknowledge your employees in front of their team members, it gives them a moral boost. Always find opportunities to give a pat on the back in group meetings or just kudos for great work. Conversely, never coach or criticise people in public. This conversation should always be public and done in a objective fact-supported manner. Always make sure that managers are aware of the proper protocols regarding coaching their staff. You have to always take care of how people feel. Be hard on the problem and soft on the person.
52. Ensure Managers are Well Trained
Your managers need to be specifically trained to manage people because often these managers are experienced technical professionals without any formal people management skills. The role of a manager should be to clear the path and set the stage for the team to do their best work and not giving orders. The main driver and influence on employee engagement and experience is that employee's direct manager.
53. Ensure Managers are Trusted By The Team
A manager that understands and motivates its team members and is in turn trusted by the same team members is the strongest driver of employee engagement for your company. People want managers who can coach them to identify and leverage their natural talents and who value their opinions as professionals. So it is critical that you have only the best people managers in your organization. Do not encourage behavior including micro managing, finger-pointing or keeping grudges.
54. Performance Conversations, Not Evaluations
Your teams want to engage in ongoing discussion about how they can do better. This should not be a one time discussion or restricted by narrow performance measurements. Ask the employees to evaluate their own performance and treat it as a conversation where both parties find opportunities for improvement.
55. Empathize With Employees
Keep in mind that as a manager or executive you have access to much more information than a particular employee. Allow them to express and do your best to understand their point of view. Listen carefully in their voice for opportunities for improvement for either of you. Just being properly heard makes them feel so much better. Always treat them with respect, just as you like to be treated by others.
56. Recognize & Acknowledge Teams
What gets recognized gets repeated. Recognition is one of the best ways to make your employees feel appreciated. Find opportunities to reinforce positive behavior. This will not only help you retain your best talent but also drive engagement. Don't recognize only successes. To ensure you teams understand your culture, your value system, find opportunities to recognize instances where teams have demonstrated company values and culture. Building a culture of recognition, where acknowledgement and appreciation is given frequently and in real-time also enhances an organization’s resilience and competitiveness.
57. Have Tough Conversations
When a behavior is unacceptable have a clear conversation without humiliating the person. It should be clear to them why their behavior was unacceptable, that there will be consequences if this happens again and that they should consider themselves warned.
58. Make Difficult Decisions
Even if the person misbehaving is a top performer, use that opportunity to demonstrate that your values are there for a reason. Nobody should be punished for obeying the rules. The longer you take to remove bad apples, the more discouraged the rest of the organization feels. Hire and fire by your company's core values. For making it easy for remote teams to make these decisions consider codifying these decisions in form of interactive decision trees and flowcharts.
59. Get Rid of Brilliant Jerks
Everyone knows at least one person in their work that is a brilliant jerk. This brilliant jerk makes it difficult for the others to perform. Once you identify these jerks in your company, act fast and remove them because everyone wants to work with nice people and no one wants to work with a jerk.
60. Define inappropriate behavior
Is casual cursing ok? Is sandbagging arbitrary deadlines ok? Most people understand when something is inappropriate but often there are grey areas or just no clear understanding. Make it clear what is and what is not OK and this can just be a simple list.
61. Define Unethical behavior
Do you allow bad mouthing your competitors? How about omitting facts or lying? Have a collective understanding of what is considered unethical. Have it clearly documented because what may be unethical for some may be a grey area for others.
62. Communicate Harassment Policy Clearly
Harassment of any kind should not be a part of workplace environment at all. People may not agree on exactly what constitutes unacceptable harassment and so there needs to be a very clearly written document outlining that with common examples. This document should evolve as the organization learns more.
63. Keep People Accountable
You are a team, not a family. When people work with trust and independence, it should be clear to every one what is expected of them at the end of the week or month as well as at the end of the quarter or year. Have regular update meetings where everyone talks about their accomplishments. If goals are not met, it needs to be discussed and there should be consequences. This keeps it fair for the teams that did work hard and make their goals.
64. Set & Support Ambitious Goals
Setting and achieving ambitious goals helps people learn and grow. Define goals that are SMART ( Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound). Require your people to set goals that are challenging but achievable. Then support them in every way so they can achieve those goals. Your role is to make them successful at those goals. When they achieve those goals they would have grown professionally in their work.
65. Standardize Progress Sharing
After you have agreed upon the goals, the next step is to lay down the progress milestones. Each of these milestones could be an automatic status check meeting as it applies. Having a standardized approach for assigning goals to teams and then observing progress will give them enough flexibility and freedom to do their work and at the same time opportunity for any intervention if things get out of control.
66. Opportunity To Take Interview Of New Candidates
Everyone remembers the first time they got to interview some other candidate. It is a very empowering experience because it allows them to reflect upon themselves before and after the actual interview. You get a fresh perspective when you hear someone else answer some tough questions. This experience also builds their leadership skills and prepares them for future roles.
67. Make On-Boarding A Memorable Experience
On-Boarding is usually the new hire's first interaction with rest of the team. Use this opportunity to give a great first impression of each member. Have some fun activity where you get to know the real person behind the title.
68. Farewell Leaving Employees
People moving on in their careers for another job or location is normal. When people leave they have very clear ideas on what can be improved as well as what they appreciated about their current job. Use this opportunity to do an effective exit interview and learn how to improve company culture. Consider if it makes sense for having a farewell lunch with the team member with the whole team. It shows the whole team that the company does care about employees even when they leave. Also, news about people leaving company must be shared in a timely manner to avoid any mischaracterizations in rumor mills.
69. Meeting Preparations
We all know of times when people show up to the meeting without preparing and end up wasting everybody's time. If this behavior is not corrected, it hurts the moral of others and you will see that nothing real gets accomplished after most meetings. To avoid this, make sure there is a single host that is responsible for objectively identifying in your meeting planning template spreadsheet, what needs to be decided, what each invited member must give an explained opinion about and finally what needs to happen before the end of the meeting. When remote meetings reduce down to simple status updates, its a sign that the meetings are not effective anymore. When people show up late to the meeting, there should be some consequence. It should be clear to everyone that they need to prepare before the meeting and any thing off the agenda needs to be addressed offline. Use the 'talking stick' to allow everyone get a chance to speak.
70. Invite Only Stakeholders To Meetings
Meetings are often the most expensive waste of time for companies. Make sure only and all of the stakeholders attend the meeting so a binding decision can be reached.
71. Enable Confident Decisions
Employees mostly want to follow the guidelines and policies but the terse and boring documentation around these guidelines does not help. Weave your culture within your processes, policies, meetings and operational procedures. Consider making it easy for employees to make decisions that align with the company strategy, vision and mission using interactive decision trees representing guidelines and policies. Instead of spending 15 minutes deciphering a long document, interactive decision trees let the recommendation reveal itself with just a few clicks by the employee and within just a few seconds. These interactive decision trees give such a effortless experience that your employees will want to follow your guidelines and policies.
72. Ensure Guidelines Are Followed
If there are no consequences for not following the guidelines then those guidelines are meaningless. Everyone must follow the guidelines. The guidelines themselves must keep up with the changing needs of your organization. Adopting a platform that allows your teams to effortlessly follow the guidelines along with an automatic transcript will greatly streamline operations.
73. Open-Door Policy
Have regular office hours for things that can wait, or just have open-door policy. Make it easy for any team member to schedule a conversation with anyone if they feel strongly about it. This communicates to your employees that you are open to listen to their perspectives and suggestions. This is a great driver for improving employee morale.
74. Avoid Time Wasting Manual Reports
It is so common in many companies that every week or month the whole team is busy making some report because the management needs it before some arbitrary deadline. This is so pervasive in traditional industries that it actually hurts the employee moral. This kind of reporting must be fully automated and the management team must learn how to create their own reporting so the teams can do their real work of growing the company.
75. Automate Your Way Out of Excel
Excel has been the Swiss Army-knife tool for most organizations because almost everyone uses it for all sorts of spreadsheets. Unfortunately many people go overboard and create isolated tools, data silos and processes that don't quite scale. It is important to start with spreadsheet based tools but eventually it should be automated in a more general intranet web based tool that can be used by everyone in a standardized way. Consider using interactive decision trees and flowcharts for streamlining operations. This will make sure that everyone shares the same processes and tools get shared by everyone.
76. Measure Leaders By Their People
The executives and managers in your company must be focused on developing the next generation of leaders. Devise a system that quantifies how well the managers are developing their teams. Measure promotions, performance evaluations, mentorship engagements, trainings, etc. to evaluate how well the team performed under a manager.
77. Give Authority To Leaders
Not all decisions need to bubble up the hierarchical chain of command. It should be expected that some consequential decisions be made by the first level managers as well as technical experts. This approach nurtures responsibility and ownership in your employees.
78. Memorialize Important Decisions
For a rapidly growing organization people will be taking up new roles and challenges all the time. It is often a mystery why some choices and decisions were made in the past by their predecessors. Having major decisions clearly memorialized in a centrally accessible repository, it can be easy to understand what needs to be done next.
79. Set Expectations on Communication Methods
Your company will likely have several ways for people to communicate on a variety of different topics - emails, chats, calls, video conferencing, screen sharing or even in-person meetings. When it comes to important topics like performance evaluations, legal matters, HR communications, etc. you might want to make it clear which communication method must be used. So while casual discussions or project related meetings can happen on video conference calls, legal matters will get communicated only by company emails or in person. Emojis often pose a challenge in chat messaging for example, a thumbs up emoji or a smiley emoji in response to a specific question may not clearly convey the accurate response. Recorded video can be quite useful for repeated activities like for example trainings where a combination of screen capture and the person speaking can greatly help getting the point across.
Strategies to improve company culture related to Customer Facing Teams
80. Measure what matters
Is customer satisfaction more important than the number of customer interactions per hour? Measure the activities that matter the most to you because people will naturally optimize towards making the numbers look good. When working remotely, communication effectiveness, team engagement and performance KPIs become the signals you might want to hone in appropriately.
81. Focus On Making The Customer Successful
Teach your teams to view each customer engagements as an opportunity to make that customer become the hero in their organizations. When you make your customers successful, they will never leave you which in turn secures your future success.
82. Assert Your Company Values
When you tell the customer that their satisfaction is guaranteed, mean it and stand by it. Train your teams what to do when the customer feels not satisfied with your solution. Empower them to make it right for the customer in the same conversation and justify using your value system. Customers appreciate when they see an empowered employee making the tough call to make things work for them.
83. Maintain Presentation and Dressing Standards
Depending on your industry vertical and your customer profile, you may want to decide on a business-professional dress code. Document these and communicate them clearly and ensure there are no exceptions. It should be clear to everyone what kind of dressing is not acceptable to be worn in an office environment. You might also want to specify what is expected when customer is present.
84. Prevent Burn-Outs
There are times in a year when the workload is high and all teams are working hard. There are also some functions where there is a lot of stress involved on a daily basis. You can have a 'work hard, play hard' culture, but look out for signs of burnout or stress. Encourage teams to take a break or a quick nap or even take a walk outside to get some fresh air. Happy teams will get you happy loyal customers.
85. Performance Leaderboard
Highlight the top performers of the week in a common area. It is not enough just to list the names, but be sure to have a couple of paragraphs explaining the reason behind their appreciation. Explain how they aligned with the values and culture and achieved great results so others can see weekly encouraging examples of how to perform better.
86. Acknowledge Employees that Stood Up To Challenges
Usually when a team member leaves your company, it takes at least a few weeks or months before that position is filled again. If the work went on without any major hiccups, be sure to acknowledge the employees that stepped in and picked up the slack by putting in more hours and working harder. This is when you also find employees who are dependable and reliable during difficult times. Acknowledge and appreciate these employees and if possible consider highlighting these values in front of the whole team and promote them or give them a salary raise.
Working while sitting at one place for hours is not good for health. A small investment in stand-up-desks helps your employees flex their muscles and get more productive.
88. Monitor & Engage On Social Channels
Your customers and general public is engaging with your company on their favorite social media network. If you do not respond appropriately, you loose handle over the narrative. This could hurt your public image and potentially how your employees perceive your company. Make someone responsible for attending to any social mention and take advantage of any opportunity to highlight your culture and values to the world.
Strategies to improve company culture related to Office Based Internal Team
89. Provide a physical space to destress
Everyone needs break from time to time either to have a drink, chat with someone, or take a personal phone call. Let people be comfortable in taking these breaks and even socialize in the break area. When colleagues get to know each other outside of work, they tend to work better together.
90. Quick Team Activities
Buy lunch for the teams and enjoy it together for no reason at all. Or better yet, have a fixed day when the lunch is provided. This is appreciated by many as they did not have to pack or pay for lunch that day.
91. Remote Friendly Environment
Often employees feel the need to show their face in the office even if working from home is encouraged. This is understandable because it is more likely for senior executives to remember faces of people they meet in person as opposed to people working remotely from home. Make your policies such that anyone working remotely is not at a disadvantage compared to people working from office, everything else being same. You might require everyone on a video conference to individually join the call instead of joining as a group from a common meeting room to put everyone on the same footing and giving everyone the same exposure.
Strategies to improve company culture related to Work From Home (WFH) Team members
92. Flexible Expectations Both ways
Generally speaking inflexible work environment is a result of bad planning. When possible leave a small room for unforeseen challenges so it is easy on your people. This flexibility expectation should work both ways. Flexible or remote work can mean different things to different people. Make it clear if employees are expected to be online for some minimum number of hours or are they required to accomplish certain milestones. Do they need to travel to the office once every week/month/year? Unlimited PTO policy, flexible working hours, 4-day work week, late start after dropping kids to school are some examples in way you can be flexible to meet your employees needs.
93. Communicate Often
We don't mean the endless chat messaging about work related topics. Talk to all your teams often about your progress, successes, failures, mistakes and help everyone reflect on how it could be done better going forward.
94. Encourage Cross Functional Collaboration
When a problem is visualized by teams from different background, each one contributes a unique perspective and the solution can be much more durable and reliable. This approach also lets people learn different perspectives and grow their thought processes.
95. Leverage Technology To Accommodate
In today's hyperconnected world, there are many ways to leverage cloud sharing, video conferencing, and other remote work options and so you don't need teams to sit in their office five days a week. But there are real other challenges that creep up. These same technologies become the source of continuous distractions, disruptions, invasion of privacy as well as source of unnecessary stress. You need to lay some ground rules of how to effectively leverage these technologies, and at the same time leave enough time and space for people to focus on working uninterrupted. Many companies use chat for quick questions, forums/groups/threads for async discussions, phone calls for deeper back & forth discussion, emails for important matters, video calls for team discussions and finally in-person when practical. Make sure everyone has reliable internet connection as well as a dedicated space for working at home. Use best practices for software tools like calendars, surveys, voicemails, reports, project management and dashboard effectively as it applies to your organization.
96. Work Life Balance
Teams working from home often complain they do more work than they did when they worked in office. Majority of the employees when surveyed say that they prefer a job that allows a greater work-life balance. This is particularly more important for families with kids as well as other responsibilities. While fire-drills at work are a practical reality, we need to understand that picking up their kids on time from afternoon day care is a non-negotiable for most parents who rush in peak traffic to pick up their kids. When you offer employees more options for when and how they work, it shows them that you trust them to get their work done while enjoying these perks.
97. Watercooler Conversations
Provide a video conferencing channel for watercooler conversation that allows team members to meet face to face and talk about non-work related topics and get to know one another. People can bring up any topic they want and they get maybe 10 minutes to discuss that topic. Many professional introductions and relationships happen around these casual conversations. Some communications tools these days have features that put random team members in a conversation which roughly resemble hallway or watercooler conversations.
98. Host Remote All-Hands Meetings
It is important for All-Hands meetings that everyone is equally treated and heard. Carry out All-hands meeting on a regular basis but in a way that does not disadvantage teams working remotely. Having virtual all-hands meetings improve company culture because everyone is able to bring their issues, comments and questions with equal priority.
99. Remote Onboarding
Whether it is because of pandemic or because of any other drivers, it is likely that you will have more remote employees going forward. And so it makes sense to get better at recruiting and onboarding remotely working employees. There are some real challenges with remotely onboarding and the sooner you mitigate these challenges, the better it is for your company. A good start is to have your last few new hires work out a preliminary remote onboarding process and then rinse and repeat.
100. Prioritize Meaningful Work
For remote teams, its easy to feel like they need to respond to messages immediately to show that they are actively engaged. However, it is important to clarify that everyone needs to carve our time for meaningful work that requires uninterrupted attention. People need to respect time zone differences. Require scheduling meetings on calendar for any conversation more than 5 minutes on chat. Is it ok to call someone on phone if they are not responding on chat? Define these ground rules so meaningful work can happen without much friction.
Traditional approach doesn't work
Organizations spend thousands of work hours and go out of their way to design standard processes and guidelines for consistent performance. But often these processes become unnecessarily burdensome for their people. They is either too much documentation to read, confusing directions, outdated revisions, uneven access, no record of activities performed, not measurable or even unfriendly tools. Clearly the burden to keep up with such process documentation hurts the team morale as well as the company culture.
Instead, managers should make things simple. They should give clear incentive for their teams to leverage the company guidelines. Why burden your team with cumbersome process documentation when you can walk them through each step effortlessly while saving them time as well as reduced cognitive load?
Interactive Decision Trees & Flowcharts
Today, it is possible to easily create a interactive decision tree and flowcharts of your whole thought process and eliminate up to 98% of the burden of reading terse documentation. Imagine each individual effortlessly stepping through your guidelines using any browser on their phone while eliminating anything irrelevant along the way. In less than 30 seconds, your interactive flowcharts helps them reach a prescribed conclusion or even recommends further action with implicit permission to go ahead with that action - while the whole interaction can be saved for your compliance analytics.
Ease of use
Who doesn't understand flowcharts today? Most of us have grown up with flowcharts in some form or other; in fact it can be argued that we think in terms of decision trees which are basically flowcharts. That means creating a flowchart for your process is probably easier for your people to do. If you empower your people to access, create and edit these flowcharts from their mobile devices it just makes it so much more easier for them to be more efficient. The biggest advantage of interactive decision trees and flowcharts is that they eliminate irrelevant branches as the viewer makes choices at each node. In other words, the recommendation reveals itself in as little as 10 seconds as the viewer makes just a few choices/clicks. Not only is it much easier but it is also significantly faster approach.
Example Use Cases
Getting culture right takes a lot and the executive team has to be quite intentional to get it right from the beginning.
What is unacceptable behavior at your company?
Should your engineer consider filing patent for that new feature or idea?
Walk them through the various HR guidelines.
How does your customer support validate the warranty claims from your customers?
Let your customers self help themselves in few seconds 24x7.
Guide your customers for troubleshooting by showing images and videos at each step. Standardize the screening of new candidates. Provide training to your customer service agents. All of these process interactions should be automatically saved for further analysis and improvement. The possibilities are endless - you get the idea.
By using interactive decision trees and flowcharts, your organization can potentially save few hours of work for each team member every week - imagine the cumulative $aving$ and efficiency gained by using interactive flowcharts. Your flowchart can keep on accumulating new insights on a regular basis and can handle more and more use cases for your people. Your customers can get your detailed guidance in the shortest amount of time and in a way that is easy and convenient for them. Make doing the right thing to be the easiest option.
Streamline Your Operations
Its best to have your interactive decision trees and flowcharts accessible on a common operations platform. At a minimum, your operations platform should give you these 12 advantages:
- Real Intelligence (RI) based on human judgement and experience
- Conversational feel
- Ease of maintaining processes from any mobile/desktop browser
- Optional automatic recording of activities so people can focus on the real work instead of manually documenting their activities
- Dynamic elimination of irrelevant content
- Implicit permissions for further actions
- Role based User management
- Leverage images, videos, URL links and attachments when relevant
- Continuous improvement using team feedback
- Measurable compliance & performance
- Integrates well with other platforms
- Retain the experience and best-practices
Make it easy for your people to do the right thing! Enable Confident Decisions and the culture will take care of itself.
FAQ on Improving Company Culture
Why is it critical to get your company's Culture right?
A great company culture impacts every aspect of your organization. You can think of your culture as the immune system of your company. It keeps your teams together, motivated, happy and productive. It enables faster decision making and better alignment of those decisions with company strategy. A great culture is the biggest competitive asset a company can have in the long run. Great culture plays a big role in attracting top talent to your company. Companies with great culture also enjoy strong employee retention numbers. In today's hypercompetitive marketplace, your company needs to out-innovate your competition to stay relevant. Innovation is the continual process of improving your current state. Company culture is the foundation of every company. Innovation cannot be forced and needs to systemic. Having a culture that encourages innovation will mean that each and every member of your organization is encouraged to experiment strategically and learn from potential failures and win. It can be argued that great culture could be a moat for your organization and can become your competitive advantage.
How do you know that your company culture is not improving?
When culture is not improving or degrading, you will see many symptoms and cracks forming. Is your company losing high performing employees lately? Are people generally less happy at work? Is feedback welcome? Is feedback or suggestions being acted upon? When was the last time everyone celebrated anything together? Is there office politics? Do managers boss around? Does the company website boast language that does not agree with ground reality? Any of these could be a sign of worsening culture in your company. The employee morale degrades over time and it might seem that the only best employees are leaving the company. Generally speaking if the employees loose teh sense of purpose in working for a company, the culture is the first thing that gets impacted.
How can you build a strong culture with teams working remotely and not make them feel isolated?
Most strategies for cultivating a strong company culture are same regardless of whether employees are working in office or remotely. The 100 strategies listed in this artilce is a great comprehensive way to start building a strong company culture. Having said that there are several strategies explained above that are more important to get it right when it concerns remote teams. Make it flexible for remote teams to work. Communicate more often with remote teams because they might be left out of the office interactions and activities. Encourage more cross functional collaboration not only between different groups but also between local and remote teams. Leverage technology and tools to make it easy for your remote teams to spend their time on the real work of growing your business. Allow your remote teams to get a good work life balance. Find a way for allowing remote teams to get in on the watercooler conversations that usually happen in office break rooms. When hosting All-Hands meetings, make sure everyone joins remotely even if they are in the office, so everyone gets the same experience. Onboarding of remote employees must be done in a way that they understand your values and culture thoroughly and they have a memorable experience. And finally, it is important to prioritize meaningful work for remote team members to make them feel included in important projects. Acknowledge their contributions in team meetings and make sure they are always considered equally for new projects.
How much does it cost to build a strong company culture?
We have listed atleast 100 strategies which can help you improve company culture right away. While some of them need some investment of resources, most of the strategies focus mainly on the way your team operates. It is probably wrong to ask how much it costs to build a strong culture. The real question is what would it cost you if you do not have a strong culture. In fact, if your company does not have a strong company culture, there is a good chance it will not have a great future and that is a severe opportunity cost for your company. It is wise to focus on building a strong company culture right from the beginning and evolving it carefully in line with your company values.
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Last Updated: 2020-10-20