Whatever you call it; measuring and improving it are not so easy. How would you describe the atmosphere in your office? If someone asked whether your company culture was positive or negative, what would your answer be?
Sometimes it’s the things which can’t be easily quantified, or even described, that are the keys to a company’s success (or downfall!). We’ve identified four key areas which may help you gauge your company’s “vibe” and – if necessary – take steps to improve it.
Successful businesses encourage and depend on the ingenuity of their staff to develop new ideas and solutions. Employees are confident and offer suggestions freely, knowing that their ideas can add value to the company’s overall success. Leaders are encouraging, open to ideas and secure enough to open the discussion up to others.
But what about the opposite end of the spectrum? Employees keep suggestions to themselves, or are unsure of how an idea may be received. Managers are quick to say no, pooh-pooh an idea or restrict innovation to senior leaders. In this environment, creativity is sure to stagnate.
Key Question: When was the last time one of your team members volunteered a new idea or solution, and how was this received?
A healthy sense of competition can be extremely valuable, particularly in Sales Teams. It can be a positive motivator where employees feel driven to perform to the best of their abilities. Colleagues are not afraid to outshine each other, and a “well done” from a peer is readily offered when one member or team succeeds over another.
Flip this on its head and competitive behaviour can create distrust amongst colleagues. Staff are driven to succeed at any cost, often stepping over their colleagues to achieve their next goal. Strategies for success are kept under wraps rather than shared with the wider team.
Key question: How is success quantified and rewarded in your business. Do you recognise individuals over team effort?
Typically, staff who are happy and satisfied in their work will display a level of commitment which is over and above their paygrade. Productivity is high and a proactive approach is the norm. Bad news or poor results are greeted with a can-do attitude and a sense of ownership and responsibility to turn the situation around.
When people are clocking in and out right on time, putting in minimal effort to get the bare minimum done, it is a sure sign they are dissatisfied in their role and have a low level of commitment to the company. A poor quarter will only validate their opinion and work ethic rather than driving them to innovate and take ownership. Care must be taken to ensure their negativity doesn’t spread.
A word of caution : Consider what may be going on behind the scenes, or at home for those people. Pre-judging someone’s motivation may only exacerbate a situation which could easily be resolved. In addition, in trying to improve people’s level of commitment to the company, make sure a culture of presentee-ism doesn’t creep in. Bums on seats does not necessarily equate to productivity.
Key Question: Do you see your team putting in the extra effort to get a project over the line?
Staff Retention and Loyalty
High staff turnover is a leading indicator that there is something fishy going on in a business. The company may be recruiting the wrong people in the first instance and therefore need to examine their recruitment process. Conversely, a new employee may arrive ready to give their all, and yet the daily reality of working there does not live up to what was advertised.
In high-turnover situations, staff are often treated as a commodity; easily replaceable, and not viewed as a company’s most valuable asset. Leaders keep the plans of the company to the top tier and avoid envisioning the rest of the workforce.
A resistance to investing in training or growing their teams is typical because, well, what’s the point? They’ll probably leave in six months anyway.
Businesses with excellent staff retention levels often display the same behaviours; Encouraging staff to be directly involved in the company’s success, high levels of training and development, sharing the bigger picture and inviting input and creativity. In return, staff know they are valued, and can see a future with the company. Loyalty is high and this attitude is contagious!
Key Question: When a staff member leaves, how well do you gauge their reasons and motivations? What can you learn from their feedback?
If you have taken a look at these four key areas and come up wanting, you are not alone.
Now more than ever, employers are becoming aware that it isn’t enough to pay the going rate and expect employees to be happy. A crummy vibe or an awkward atmosphere can only go unchecked for so long before it starts affecting performance and productivity. Creating a positive, collaborative and happy workplace is essential for a successful and stable future, and invariably it starts at the top, with you.