As a business coach, I talk to thousands of business owners each year who are looking for guidance on how to shape their company culture for growth and independence. They understand the importance of company culture, but often struggle to shape it in a way that benefits both their company as a whole and their team members.
So, today I wanted to share with you the single most powerful thought exercise you can do to get your company culture on the right track.
Revisit your vision.
Most business owners I speak with have at least an idea of what they want their company culture to look like. But very few take the time to sit down and get clear on specifics. So, the first thing I recommend for all business owners is to sit down for about an hour and write down what they want their company culture to look like. I suggest turning off your phone and email client, and really focusing on the bigger picture.
Here are a few questions you will want to consider and put in writing:
What values do you wish to make a priority in your business?
How would these internalized values show up in day-to-day behavior?
What would an outside observer notice about the feel of your company while spending a day in your offices?
How will you incorporate these values into your onboarding process?
How will you incorporate these values into your other processes and procedures?
Once you have your vision down on paper, it's time to take a hard look at your current company culture and how it fits into that vision. This is one of the hardest things for a business owner to do, as there is often a disconnect between what one "wants" and what the actual reality is.
If you were an outsider looking in, where would you notice the observed culture aligning, and not aligning with your desired culture?
How do you, as a business owner, fit into the company culture?
Let's say you want to encourage your employees to manage their own time, so they can focus on the big-picture items that fuel business growth. If you are constantly micro-managing their time, making it hard for them to focus on larger projects, your actions are directly contradicting the company culture that you want to work toward. Or perhaps you struggle with setting aside focus time and rarely make it a priority, in which case your actions are shaping the way your employees manage their time and energy.
Take this feedback and use it to refine your written vision of your company's culture. Talk with your team about it. Get their input and check in with them every quarter to see if anything has changed. This is a process that unfolds over several months, not a "one-time sit down" event. But the effort is well worth it over time.