If there’s one thing we’ve been doing a lot of here at Freerange Works, it’s speaking to business owners, CEOs, General Managers, HR Managers and People Leaders within businesses of all shapes and sizes about how they flex – and if they don’t, about why they don’t.
Now that we’re 7 months in and 46 meetings deep, when we take a breath to reflect and ponder what it is that all of these organisations can tell us about building great company cultures, some themes are crystallising for us, which we’d like to share.
Before we reveal what we believe a strong company culture is built on, we need to set the scene with the key similarities and differences between the numerous businesses we’ve spoken to along the way about the nuances of their company cultures.
Contrary to what might feel common sensical, whether it’s a business with 8 employees, 88 or 3000, the journey to building a great company culture is remarkably similar, with the same challenges, building blocks and strategies to get there. And just because you’re bigger, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re better.
The only major difference that strikes us is organisational maturity and the degree of readiness that businesses have for culture change for the better. To us this means, how well established the people and culture fundamentals are – if at all. And if the fundamentals aren’t in place, what we’re seeing and hearing is that these organisations just aren’t ready to make lasting impactful culture change – like becoming a fully-fledged flexible workplace for instance, embracing a wellness programme or becoming truly ‘agile’.
So what exactly are these ‘fundamentals’? We believe we can boil them down to what we like to call The Culture Change Trifecta.
1. Vision and Values
If it’s your company culture that needs a shift in the right direction, opportunity exists to better articulate your vision and values and to bring them to life. Having a clear vision that everyone understands and can connect with gives people a shared purpose and can go as far as to energise and inspire change. Core company values define and guide the behaviours that you want in your business as you work towards achieving your vision and set the tone and behavioural framework for the kind of company culture you want to shape.
So ask yourself, what is The Why and does everyone get it? Because if they don’t, starting from a place that lacks shared connection and purpose will likely result in the impact of any people and culture enhancements being very short lived.
If you’re still stuck in the dark ages of a no-feedback-culture, where managers are ‘too busy’ to keep meetings with their direct reports, let alone deliver them constructive feedback to their face more frequently than annually at their Performance Appraisal, then make Performance Development ‘Priority One’ in your business. Without this critical element in place, your business is likely to suffer from poor retention and engagement.
So what can you do? Source the tools, training, and technology to embed a Performance Development system. One where your leaders set clear expectations with their people, practice collaborative goal-setting and provide live feedback so that you can be sure of your people’s performance no matter when and where the work gets done.
Specifically, you can:
- Develop meaningful, individualised Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for every person in your business
- Establish and streamline performance management processes to make it easy for people leaders to have regular goal-oriented performance and development conversations with their team members
- Consider implementing an online performance appraisal / check-in tool to support in taking the pain out of performance management.
3. Leadership Development
So many people managers have progressed through their area of expertise, only to find themselves in a position where they’re responsible for leading and inspiring others… with no formal management or leadership training!
It is no wonder then, that the majority of leaders we come across are apprehensive about managing flexible working and other ‘culture enhancing’ initiatives. Whether it’s one-on-one coaching / training, group / workshop training, peer discussions or a fully-fledged leadership development programme, source the support for your leaders to transform them from managers to coaches, primed to get the best out of their people and to drive culture change with confidence.
With The Culture Change Trifecta in place, well supported by strong internal communication and ways of seeking regular feedback from your people, you’re ready to tackle embedding and enhancing the company culture of your dreams.