An organizational culture comes about in one of two ways. It is decisively created and nurtured from the very beginning with a specific vision in mind. Or, more typically, it comes about a bit haphazardly through the experiences, beliefs and behaviors of those on the team.
Everyone wants to work for a team that has a great culture, whatever that culture may be. As a former Navy SEAL, I knew exactly what to expect when I signed up. Ok, not exactly. But I knew that the culture of the SEAL Teams had been forged over decades of difficult training and combat across the globe. There is a well-defined mission and a distinct profile for the kind of team that can fulfill it. Plain and simple.
When I later became an entrepreneur, I realized that I had the opportunity to create an organizational culture of my own. And that I had no idea how to do that. When growing a business we have a tendency to keep our head in the weeds until we reach a critical point and realize that culture and values are critical to scalability and profitability. Not just soft side strategies that don't contribute to growth.
So how do we accomplish this?
Get Feedback. Outside of defining the company's mission and values, hiring the right people and putting them in the right jobs, there are some other strategies I have found to be effective. And they guarantee transparent feedback.
We are big on anonymous surveys at our internet marketing agency. Why ask when you can get it straight from the horse's mount. Directors all the way up to C-level and founders receive 360 degree reviews. We survey on how to improve the office, our culture, benefits, dress code...everything. That is not to say we don't have decisive leadership here who can't make decisions. But we find it imperative, assuming you have an awesome team you trust, to use their feedback to make constant improvements.
So what's next?
Follow-through. The most important piece of all. Because if you ask for feedback and then it ends up in some vacuum with no follow-through, you're in serious trouble. Trust is lost and the team will fear the worst. Management doesn't care. This damages morale and increases turnover.
We recently sent out a survey based on some improvements we want to make to our culture and brand. We gathered all of the answers then had a committee meeting to discuss how we are going to deliver our "findings" and more importantly what actionable steps would be made. Doing this improve trust, communication, morale and overall productivity.
Whether it is through surveys, after action reviews, one-on-one meetings or all of the above, don't forget to ask the people you trust the most. Your team.