Cultivating Workplace Culture

maggiefox - Social Media Group
Maggie Fox Senior Vice President, Digital Marketing, SAP

Posted on November 5th 2012

Cultivating Workplace Culture

Workplace culture is a hard thing to get right.  It’s a moving target that means something different to everyone. It grows and evolves over time and is the result of action and reaction.  It is the lingering effect of every interaction.  Culture may not be on the top of everyone’s ‘to do’ lists but it is always present and always captivated by opportunity.

So how do we identify this ambiguous culture?  We all play a role in creating it and the easiest way to identify it is to look to at the individuals around you.  Are your co-workers enthusiastic and eager to share knowledge when they aren’t even asked?  Are your co-workers supportive and willing to go the extra mile for one another?  Culture lives in the little bit of extra effort that you are willing to expel.

Culture is simultaneously the feeling when you arrive to work on a Monday morning and the feeling you have when you leave on a Friday evening.  It is there in that ridiculous inside joke that you have around the office and the silly desk accessories that make you smile.  It is there in the moment when all hands are on deck, joining forces to meet seemingly impossible deadlines as the clock ticks down.

Considering the time we spend at work, building a healthy work culture is absolutely crucial.  The lines between home and work continue to blur and these aspects of life are not as easy to separate as they once were.  Happiness in your career depends as much on the environment that you work in as the work itself.  Cultivating a healthy workplace culture isn’t something that you can accomplish overnight, it takes time and dedication.  But when culture meets talent, passion and willing participants, the possibilities are endless.  One thing is for sure, a strong culture is a true advantage over the competition.   So how do we get there?

1.  Find Something To Be Enthusiastic About

Enthusiasm is contagious.  If you are excited about something, take the time to share it with your co-workers.  Did you read an interesting article on the way to work?  Share it!  Inspiration stems from the strangest places and you will never know what you have in common with the people around you until you talk about it.

2.  Open Communication

A good flow of communication is crucial in any office environment.  In some instances, a simple conversation can go much further than another email in the inbox.  Take the time to speak face to face with the people around you.  We exist in a world full of real-time reactions so take the time to develop a relationship with the people around you by asking them how their day was.

3.  Say Thank You

Sit down with your co-workers and let them know you appreciate their efforts.  This could be a formal or an informal effort, but it is often overlooked.  Take the time to thank a co-worker!  It doesn’t matter if the effort was small or large, thanking someone is the most simple way to remind them that they are valued.  A simple showing of gratitude can build a tremendous amount of respect.

4.  Get Out There And Do Something Together

As the saying goes, work hard play hard.  Try stepping outside of your usual group activities and tackling a goal together in uncharted territory.  Step outside of your office walls and play a sport together, volunteer together- try something new!  Shaking up your team dynamic beyond established roles can really highlight strengths in your co workers that aren’t as visible within the confines of the office walls.

5.  Be Willing To Change

Cultivating a healthy workplace culture simply cannot be accomplished overnight.  Culture is the product of a cohesive effort.  The ability to be flexible, to listen to the suggestions of others and to take a leap of faith and grow is what will get you there.  Trust is key here and if you have taken the efforts to establish a culture through the steps above, this should be an easy step to follow.

What do you do in your workplace to cultivate culture?

 

maggiefox - Social Media Group

Maggie Fox

Senior Vice President, Digital Marketing, SAP

Maggie Fox is the Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP, responsible for delivering a unified digital experience to SAP customers and the market. Prior to joining SAP, Fox was founder and CEO of Social Media Group, established in 2006 and one of the world's most highly respected independent agencies helping businesses navigate the socially engaged Web. She has been interviewed about social and digital trends by Inc. magazine, The Washington Post, CBC Radio, The Globe and Mail, CBC News, CTV News and The Financial Post, among others. In 2011, The National Post named her one of Canada's Top Innovators. Fox sits on the boards of GetElevate.com and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

See Full Profile >

Comments

Great post Maggie!

Especially like #5.  We listened to our employees about 6 years ago.  The top future leaders were 24 and 25 years old. They said if we didn't change they were leaving. They wanted to switch from command and control to an employee generated culture statement.  My two brothers/partners agreed to this.  One member from each team met in the conference room and created out culture statement. 

We keep the culture alive by stating it before every meeting of 3 people or more.  One person recites one line or piece of the statement.  Now it is deeply embedded in us.  We hire and fire according to the culture.  We hire and fire clients and vendors according to the clients. 

As per your #1, we enter "Best Places to Work" contests to benchmark our culture growth. 

Your #2 is critical.  Everyone has 60,000 thoughts a day, but are your staff's work related thoughts the truth or what they think is the truth. 

We practice open book management in the Great Game of Business model.  This is taken from the book by the same name authored by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham.  Everyone in our company owns a line from the P & L statement. We meet weekly to fill out a white board on an ops room wall.  Everyone knows by the end of the session how the organization is doing, and more importantly, how they will benefit.  

Another step we took is elminating management and creating a platform of leaders.  Effectively designed and measured systems and processes helped this step. This elminates the manager giving orders because everyone knows what should be done.  It allows leaders to encourage, help and reward.

We instituted a comprehensive recognition and rewards system.  This rewards the individual for their own merit and not solely for their work for the organization.

These are steps we found helped drive employee engagement to 98%.

A great book to read is It's My Company Too!  How Entangled Companies Move Beyond Employee Engagement For Remarkable Results.