What truly shapes a company’s culture? Is it simply a matter of physical location? Or is it solely determined by employee compensation packages? The answer to these questions is a resounding ‘No.’ While these factors all play a role, they are not the heart and soul of company culture. Instead, company culture is a complex tapestry woven from multiple threads, including values, beliefs, trust and empathy.
But where does this intricate tapestry begin to take shape? It all starts with the fundamental building blocks of core values. These core values serve as the cornerstone upon which a company’s vision, mission, leadership and team members all stand. These values are the driving force behind every action, decision and team interaction.
Within any organization, the heartbeat of its culture thrives in the interactions among team members. These exchanges hold a profound influence over team member engagement and retention, shaping the essence of the company experience.
When team members feel genuinely content with their work environment, the notion of seeking opportunities elsewhere wanes. And statistics support this—90% of employees who rate their work culture as “Poor” admit to thinking about leaving. That’s a compelling testimonial of culture in our professional lives.
Trust, an indispensable cornerstone of culture, emerges as the linchpin determining how employees view their company’s culture. Trust is naturally built through open, honest, and transparent communication, a bedrock that leaves no room for ambiguity. When dots aren’t easily connected, trust can unravel, creating uncertainty and undermining the very foundation of culture.
Looking at the interdependency between trust and culture, a survey shows that 91% of employees who rate their work culture as “Good” also trust their supervisors. The connection between trust and the perception of culture is undeniable.
For leaders, cultivating trust is an art form and it often begins with simple gestures. Take for instance the practice of our leadership team to have regular one-on-one conversations with team members. A brief 15-minute phone call every quarter or month keeps our CEO connected with his team. This act not only keeps you connected with your team but also gives you insight into their emotional landscape. The amount of trust built from this simple gesture will amaze you.
Empathy may be one of the biggest contributors to building trust. A leader’s capacity to step into their team member’s shoes, to truly understand their challenges, resonates profoundly. It demonstrates unequivocally that the team member’s well-being isn’t just noticed, but genuinely cared for. This empathic approach is more than a nicety; it is a catalyst for improved performance and a key motivator for team members to consistently do right by their company.
Picture this: A colleague of mine grappling with the complexities of eldercare issues found solace in regular outreach from our leadership team during trying times. In a remarkable show of support for all employees, the company leaders also instituted a new benefit—allowing time off to accompany family members to medical appointments or address any non-employee-related concerns. This gesture preserves employees’ vacation and sick time but, more importantly, displays a deep commitment to the team’s well-being.
Do you know of a team member going through a challenging time? Pick up the phone and let them know that you care.
Human beings are inherently social creatures, drawn to the vibrancy of working with others in teams. The nexus between trust and team dynamics fuels a profound sense of belonging. Within such an environment, team camaraderie propels collaboration, increased performance, and inclusivity. If you’re leading a remote team, think of ways to bring your colleagues together—whether for lunch or a virtual happy hour. It is critical to find ways for all or part of the team to meet, in person.
Of equal importance is asking the team what their ideas are on how to facilitate these in person interactions. Seek opportunities to infuse the team with a sense of togetherness, even from a distance. And, if your workspace is brick and mortar, find ways to break free from the daily grind for some enjoyable in-office bonding.
The intersection of empathy and social cohesion fosters trust and unity within your team, propelling them to greater heights of success and fulfillment.
Inclusion is more than just a buzzword—it’s a transformative force that can shape the core of organizational culture. But how do you get beyond rhetoric and let people genuinely feel their significance within the company? The answer lies in recognition; a catalyst that brings a sense of value but also magnifies the impact of one’s contributions. Recognition illuminates how each person’s role fits into the larger tapestry of the organization. This builds motivation and kindles a deep sense of pride, pushing individuals to embrace their work with renewed vigor. When team members feel that sense of belonging, they are motivated to go the extra mile and that team becomes an unstoppable force.
The beauty of recognition lies in its simplicity. It doesn’t require elaborate or costly gestures. Something as straightforward and simple as dedicating a section in your regular team meetings to call out and celebrate contributions of team members goes a long way.
How do you translate all of this into your interview practices? Make values and culture top priorities when making hiring decisions. Include the key stakeholders throughout the interview process and carefully assess candidates’ values in relation to your company’s core values.
Understand the gaps you are looking to fill at your company. Realistically evaluate each candidate against these gaps and the backdrop of your company’s values. While building a positive, feel-good environment during interviews is important, it’s equally crucial to uncover early what each candidate seeks. Do their values and objectives align with your company’s needs and values? If the answer is no, this isn’t the right candidate to fill your opening. If the answer is yes, make that hire!
The building blocks of trust, empathy, inclusion, and team member well-being form the foundation of a thriving workplace. A winning company culture boils down to the alignment of values, and the cultivation of a strong sense of belonging. You too can have a winning culture by being intentional, being deliberate and asking the right questions.