Is your company’s culture fading?

This isn’t a question you can answer immediately. It requires contemplative thought and a little bit of time. Think about this first though: What is your company’s culture? What do you stand for? And once you can answer those questions, ask: “How can I instill this in my employees?”

Defining company culture

Company culture is about beliefs and behaviors. They include the purpose of your company and the values you esteem. In other words: what makes you, you? All components of your business – including your people – should reflect who you are and what you stand for. Their passions and behaviors reveal the culture of your company.

The vision of the company needs to be clear. But more important, it needs to be implemented.

Reflect often

We are reminded to regularly take some time to reflect on who we are as individuals, where we’re going and what we stand for. The same is true for our business. When you first started, or when the founder had his or her vision, what was that? What did he hope to achieve decades down the road? Do you still uphold that vision or have even improved upon it?

When you understand the answers to those questions, you’ll have a better sense of your organization. Then you’ll know how this vision needs to be reflected to others. Your passion will spill over to your employees. If you know where you’re going, your employees will have more confidence in following you there. But remember, the opposite is also true. Without purpose, trust is lost.

Make your values clear

Your company’s culture is dependent on your values. Values look good on paper, but they need to be followed. There are multiple organizations who have a list of values, but they’re viewed more as goals rather than achieved behaviors. A company needs to be a positive representative of its own values.

When employees are first hired, it’s likely your onboarding program includes information about your company values. But what happens after the employees have been in your organization for six months or six years? Are the values instilled in them? Do they reflect them on a daily basis?

People may roll their eyes when they hear the same information over again, but it’s needed. We never know when that knowledge will come in handy. (Think about how often flight attendants review safety features at the beginning of each flight. Most passengers ignore the instruction, but those who listen are grateful for the knowledge in an emergency.) Instead of reciting the same lines as if it were a ritual, try to explain those values in various ways. Better yet, show their value with true-life examples, whether internal or external.

If you’re personally reflecting those values, even in your private life, those behaviors will rub off on employees. For example, if one of your values is customer satisfaction, then make sure your employees see you handle a difficult customer issue to make sure your customer is happy. Also, if you treat your employees in a way that makes them feel satisfied in their work, they’ll be able to see how that value can work internally. They will, in turn, do the same themselves.

Trust your team

You cannot do it all, even if you do own a red cape.

Likely the values of the employees you hired were a good fit for your company. Listen to their ideas. Allow them to display the standards you’ve grown to appreciate. Praise them for representing the company in a positive way. For example, if one of your values is trust and the employee displayed this to another co-worker or a customer, make sure you let him know it was noticed and why that is an effective reflection on the company.

Even further, assign them responsibilities that will allow their talents to shine. Help them feel a part of the team as they realize how even a small task contributes to the overall goal. Avoid looking over their shoulder; ask them how they think the project is going and offer assistance when it’s needed.

Your team’s actions in some way will display your company culture. Try to look for those elements instead of focusing on their flaws.

Be a culture leader

It’s been repeated a few times, but to have a great team, you need to be a great leader. When you understand the culture of the company and your own behaviors reflect your company’s values, your team will follow.

As their leader, you act as a guide. You don’t have to know everything, but you have to have passion and understanding for what you do. That will stand out the most and the atmosphere will be happier.

When some managers are asked what is their company culture, the answer is: “I don’t know.” If they don’t know what the company stands for, how can they know where it’s headed?

Make sure you are not that leader. If you’re unclear of your company’s culture and its values, start asking questions. To be a good leader, you have to understand the foundation of the company. Decisions are based on the company’s purpose. Avoid becoming caught in the trap of doing your tasks by rote without understanding how those responsibilities are connected to the organization’s goals.

When your company has a solid foundation and you grasp its culture, you can help your employees do the same.

What are some ways you help employees understand your culture?

Are your company values a way of life for your employees? How do you achieve this?

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