Most companies have values and mission statements, but many times there is a disconnect between what’s posted on the break room wall and the actual culture. Have you ever stopped to think about how your company’s culture was created, how it evolved, or what it looks like now? It may not be at the top of your to-do list, but understanding your culture could potentially cost or save your company millions of dollars.
The Culture Vacuum
Regardless of whether it’s been intentionally created or not, your company has a culture. Passivity about building a culture will not prevent one from developing and often, this passivity leads to a “culture vacuum.” Unfortunately, the values that develop within a culture vacuum are likely not the one envisioned by your leadership team. Many companies believe that creating a mission statement or a list of company values is enough to shape their culture. The reality is that it requires more–much more, in fact. Creating a positive culture takes a defined and consistent effort.
It starts with the leaders
Leaders drive culture. Companies with a culture vacuum often find that that the leaders defining the culture are not “official” managers and executives. When it comes to culture, a leader is anyone that the employees are listening to– it’s their influence that is creating and shaping the culture. If your company does not have a program to define what is right and wrong, individuals within the company will define it for you. This leads to a fragmented system of values and employees who believe corporate values have no meaning.
The role of your training program
An effective training program will drive awareness of your true corporate values. By clearly and consistently communicating the values, employees will learn the boundaries of right and wrong, what is acceptable and what is not. The ultimate result of your training program will be an alignment of these principles. Once employees are aware of where the company stands, it becomes easier to see which leaders are complying with and which leaders are working against the standards. Over time, the contradictory culture will subside, and the new culture will prevail.
It’s difficult to draw a direct line between something as abstract as corporate culture and your company’s financial performance, but there is a correlation, and the connection is stronger than you might think. A proactive approach that includes employee training will not only help fight the culture vacuum, it will also increase your company’s value exponentially. The rewards you reap in doing so will positively impact every aspect of your business, including your bottom line.