BY JAMES BLAIN
In this four-part series on company culture, we’ve explored how to identify the culture within your own organization, what steps you can take to shape or reshape it, and the surprising connection of how it impacts your bottom line. In this final article, we will bring it full circle and discuss how you can start your team on the right foot with your newly revamped culture, whether it’s your existing employees or while hiring new staff.
Welcoming new employees into your company culture is one the most important things you will do as part of onboarding. If you read our last article, Using Company Culture to Grow Your Business, you already know just how powerful company culture can be. But, when you don’t take care of your culture and make sure that every new employee is on board, it can quickly deteriorate and erode.
Start With the Interview If you aren’t already, during each interview you should be asking yourself how the person sitting in front of you will impact and fit into your company culture as well as your safety and service cultures. Although you can always teach and try to instill values, it is important to keep in mind that if someone doesn’t naturally have these values or the traits you are looking for, you will have to spend more time trying to get them in line with what you expect.
A good way to tell how well someone will naturally fit into your culture is to ask them hypothetical questions and provide them with sample situations so they can tell you how they would handle them. It is also important to tell them about your culture and try to help them see what things would be like for them if they came to work for you. Setting these expectations early on will help those who won’t be able to meet them weed themselves out.
The Role of Orientation and Training As a brand-new employee at your company, it is important for your new hires to be welcomed into your culture and learn what is expected of them. This is also the time to share your vision, mission, and values. In many cases, this is one of if not the single most important things you will do during your onboarding.
“... when you don’t take care of your culture and make sure that every new employee is on board, it can quickly deteriorate and erode.”Your orientation should set the tone for new employees and get them excited about their role. It is also when you should be sharing your company’s history and helping them see that they are now part of something bigger than themselves.
The time that you spend on orientation and welcoming them to your company culture will also set the lens through which they view your training. During that training, you should be taking time to point out what aspects of what you are teaching them relate to your culture and why they matter.
Inspecting What You Expect Among the top qualities of any good company culture is making sure that employees are held to your standards and expectations. If you don’t have a culture that holds everyone accountable, they will never reach their full potential. To create a productive and positive work environment, it’s important to make sure that everyone is on the same page about expectations. This includes setting clear goals and objectives for employees and making sure they achieve them.
When Someone Doesn’t Fit In If you have an employee who isn’t fitting in with your company culture, it’s imperative that you or a manager works with them to help them understand how what they are saying or doing isn’t in line with what is expected. Company culture only works if the entire team is aligned. However, that doesn’t mean that every employee is going to be a perfect fit.
Each person is unique so they each bring something to their role that plays its own part in your culture—which can be a strength when that diversity of thought complements your culture. But when someone isn’t fitting in, or is doing or saying things that contradict your culture, you need to guide them. There may also be times when employees aren’t willing to change, in which case you may have to consider letting them go as a last resort; however, you should always try to help realign them and offer them the chance to change. Oftentimes, employees who didn’t naturally fit the culture in the beginning become the ones who best embody it and become a model for it once they are brought in line with it.
Keeping Your Culture Healthy
Company culture is something that needs to be nurtured and looked after if you want it to stay healthy long term. To help your company culture stay positive and productive here are some steps you can take:
- Lead by Example. As an owner or manager, your company culture starts with you. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth mentioning again: The way you behave and interact with others sets the tone for the rest of the company. If you are focused on making your organization a great place to work, that will trickle down to the rest of your employees.
- Communicate. All your employees both new and old need to know the company culture and strive to live up to it. Make sure that your culture on paper and in reality everyone knows what is expected.
- Hire for it. When you’re interviewing for new employees, ask yourself if they will fit with your company culture. This doesn’t mean that they have to agree with everything, but the more they have in common with your visions the easier it will be for them to join your culture.
- Encourage feedback. Company culture should be constantly evolving, and the only way to make sure it’s heading in the right direction is to encourage feedback from employees.
- Be consistent. Company culture should be consistent throughout your operation. This can be a challenge, especially if you have multiple locations, but it’s important that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your company’s values and how they are applied.
James Blain is President of PAX Training. He can be reached at email@example.com.