Culture can make or break a business. You can have the best organisation in the country, but if the culture is toxic, then it will never reach its full potential. So what do we mean by ‘business culture’ and how can it be changed?

The beliefs and behaviours of the people within the business are what makes up the culture. It often starts with the leaders of the business, but a positive culture is managed by all. To change culture you must change behaviours.

With 2022 being the year the workplace changed, does your business culture reflect the needs of your employees? Here are six initial things you can check to see that it does.

1: Respect

It should go without saying that respect and kindness should be at the root of your culture. ‘Treat others as you expect to be treated yourself’. As a business owner you may find the need to discipline staff and guide them back to effectiveness. How you manage that can influence how they respond. Your position as owner should command a certain amount of respect, but you should never expect it for that reason alone. Your treatment of others has a much greater impact on respect than position.

2: Flexibility

People have a new vision of the work/life balance now, and being a flexible employer means you allow your staff to have a voice when choosing what work to do from where. Being flexible also means showing greater trust and giving more autonomy. However, bear in mind that the culture may suffer if the flexibility expectations do not balance effectively with the business objectives or the consistent view of its people.

3: Rewards

It’s not patronising to tell your staff that they have done a good job. A simple ‘well done’ is often reward enough but follow it up with a thank you during a company meeting and you’ll find the culture instantly becomes more positive. You could recognise good work or effort in other ways such as a bonus scheme, a social event or a good old fashioned, ‘employee of the month’ post on the break room wall, or social media.

4: Be clear about your expectations

The vast majority of your people want to do their best for the business. No one comes to work wanting to do a bad job. If you keep moving the goal posts, it’s unlikely your staff will score… Try communicating your company’s mission and vision more clearly or regularly, so everyone knows what the common goal is. Get your team together to discuss individual goals and ask how they can contribute. By defining what is and what isn’t important to you and your business, employees will better understand what’s expected of them.

5: Developing skills

Do your SWOT reviews every year to identify what your staff want from their job. Supporting staff to develop their skills and helping them to perform better is an excellent strategy for building a positive culture across the business. Employees will feel more valuable, more engaged, and it gives you more opportunity to recognise effort.

6: Be present

Physically and emotionally speaking, being present shows your team that you are with them in this effort to provide a great service or product. Lead by example. You’re with them in wanting to be happy and confident at work, and you’re with them if they have a tough time. Leaving your employees wondering if and when you’ll be in the office doesn’t feel like a respectful attitude and that will begin to show in your business culture.

I sincerely hope that you already have a naturally positive culture in your business, but if you need help identifying areas for improvement, do get in touch for a no-obligation conversation. I’ll leave you now, with this final thought from American biographer, historian and political commentator, Doris Kearns Goodwin, ‘Good leadership requires you to surround yourself with people of diverse perspectives who can disagree with you without fear of retaliation.’

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