During my recent conversation with Leadership Expert, Andy Stanley, we discussed multiple aspects of leadership and building an unstoppable culture in the workplace. One question he asked me was how can a leader improve the health of their Corporate Culture? This is such a relevant question as companies are dealing with a variety of work environments, perhaps a difficult time hiring people, and feeling an overall sense of unknown from their employees. Having a healthy and thriving corporate culture can impact your employees in such a way that helps boost their productivity, purpose, and overall happiness at work. And that can ultimately turn into valuable results. Below I outline three steps leaders can take to help build a healthy culture.
1. Hire tough so you can manage easy.
When you hire someone, it’s never a guarantee they are the right fit for that role and the company. But there are different things you can do on the front end to help reduce the chance of making the wrong hire. My philosophy at Southwest Airlines®, was to “hire tough so you can manage easy.” This meant going the extra mile to really understand someone’s “why” for that role and the company, understand what motivates them, and take your time with the hiring process. It can be easy to want to rush the interviews, especially when you know you need the help, just want to fill the role, and get going. But putting that effort in up-front to make sure your hires are the right fit and align with your culture and company’s values can save you so much time and effort as you manage your team. This saved energy makes everyone more productive and successful in their roles.
2. Become a champion of your employees when they exemplify the company values.
You are probably familiar with the phrase, “what gets rewarded, gets repeated” and there is much truth behind that statement. When employees are recognized and rewarded, either publicly or privately, it can mean a lot to them and encourages that behavior to be repeated. As a leader, I encourage you to collect the stories about your employees living the culture and values in action and share them. It can be in a Slack channel, company meeting or email, or even a personal note to just recognize that employee. The more you do this (both publicly and privately), not only will the actions be repeated, but others will start to recognize and celebrate their teammates when those values are seen in action. It sets off a domino effect of building and celebrating your culture.
3. Model the behavior you want to see in others.
Culture is established from the top. You can’t ask your employees to do something that you are not doing yourself—you set the example. It’s a requirement for leaders to set the tone and be the example for others to follow. As a leader, it is up to you to bring the values and culture to life so others can see it in action and have something to follow. It will take time and energy, but the payout far exceeds the effort you’ve put in to set the tone for others. The important part of this step is consistency; the longer you continue to live the culture and be a model for the values of the company, the easier it will be for others to start to follow.
These three steps are just a few of the many ways to build a strong workplace culture. The key lesson to remember as a leader: it all starts with you. You set the tone and your actions are being watched and ultimately repeated. If you embrace the change you are asking for from your employees, over time they will begin to model that same behavior. I hope you found this helpful, whether as a refresher for those with strong cultures already or a starting point if you are looking to build something new. To hear my full conversation with Andy Stanley, visit the links below:
Andy Stanley & Ginger Hardage Podcast Part 1
Andy Stanley & Ginger Hardage Podcast Part 2
Together, we truly can build Unstoppable Cultures!