Changing Your Company Culture
Changing your company culture isn't just ping-pong and pizza, in this post, I share five ideas you can use to help transform or uncover your company culture.
- “Changing your company culture is as much a journey into personal growth as it is working on your business.”
- By including everyone in the process, they have a sense of ownership and will defend your culture.
- Culture doesn’t have to be built around some fancy culture theory. When you break it down, culture is really about the combination of the little things that you do to make coworkers smile on the job and at home.
[The following is the transcript of this video. Please note that this episode, like all posts, features Jean speaking unscripted and unedited — filmed in one take. The actual video may differ in content from the script. But you’ll still get loads of value!]
Hey everyone, it’s Jean Moncrieff, founder of The Freedom Experience, and welcome to this episode!
So today, I want to talk to you about culture, and how you go about changing the culture of your business. It is no easy feat going from where you are now to creating a remarkable company culture. So I want to share five things that can make a difference as you go through that process.
You’ve probably experienced something that has led you to this point. It may be that you wake up and you dread coming into the office because going into the office is a drain on your energy, and you know you need to do something about that. Or you’ve been reading about how culture can make an impact on your bottom line. Perhaps you’ve been to a conference and heard about the benefits of a great culture.
Perhaps you’ve visited another company and experienced a remarkable culture — a place where you feel this contagious energy, where people are happy and productive. A place that Bo Burlingham, in his book: Small Giants, describes as having ‘mojo’. And you can’t help feeling that your company culture sucks in comparison, and it’s time to do something about it.
Maybe you’ve tried to make a change in the past, and no one bought into the change. Perhaps you fell into the trap of equating culture with ping-pong and pizza and handing down a purpose statement from on-high. No shame in that — most owners think that changing company culture is a tickbox process.
The truth is, creating a great culture is more like constructing Camelot; a kingdom that believes in a set of shared values, and lives and protects those values every day — a community willing to dig a defensive mote around their culture and defend it at all costs.
The good news is that culture doesn’t have to be built around some fancy culture theory. When you break it down, culture is really about the combination of the little things that you do to make coworkers smile on the job and at home.
Here are five ideas to help you change your culture. But before we get started, I want you to keep something in mind, and that is: your culture may already exist. Instead of changing your company culture, you may need to uncover it.
You need to understand where you are today and why this change is so important to you and your business. As I mentioned before, changing or creating a culture isn’t a tick box process. You are embarking on a long journey. In a way, a never-ending journey. So you need to know where you are going, why you are going there, and be fully committed to the process.
2) Start with yourself
Making a change to your culture starts with you. In the same way, that cabin crew tells you to secure the oxygen mask around your own mouth before helping others; you need to start breathing in some culture change yourself. And if you’re the kind of person who is resistant to learning new things and believes culture is a plaque at the front door that espouses your values, then this probably isn’t for you. Don’t waste your time. Stop now.
Changing your company culture is as much a journey into personal growth as it is working on your business.
Start investing in your personal development. Attend conferences and events that educate and inspire you. Read more. There is so much you can learn between the covers of a book. Join CEO or founders group like Small Giants and the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).
3) Involve your team
Culture isn’t something handed down from on high. You must include everyone in developing and shaping your culture. And often your culture already exists, hidden somewhere. You may not even need to ‘change’ your culture. You may simply need to uncover your culture.
I’ve met so many business owners who start by writing down a list of words they brand their values. Words they’ve read on other companies value statements or terms they aspire to reach when all along their values and culture lie hidden in a handful of people.
Here’s a way of uncovering your values. Get your leadership team together and pretend you’re on a mission to Mars. Who would you want on your team, and why? Make a list of the people and the characteristics that make them the best people for the job. Your values lie hidden in those characteristics.
By including everyone in the process, they have a sense of ownership and will defend your culture.
Shared ownership creates a healthy culture. And a healthy culture exists regardless of whether you or your leadership team are around.
4) Institutionalize it
To get momentum behind your culture, you need to institutionalize it. Tell the story of how you created your culture and what it means to your business.
The emotional environment is where culture is built, so lay a foundation for personal recognition. Use townhall events to recognize people and teams who have upheld your values. Encourage people to call you out on your values.
I remember hearing that Paul Spiegelman, the co-founder of Small Giants, kept a pile of cards on his desk. On the anniversary of every coworker’s start date with Berly Health, he would write a card thanking them and congratulating them for however many years of service they had given the company, reflecting on something personal in or related to their jobs in every note.
Just last night, I received a similar card from a client — a Christmas card with a personal message, thanking me for my contribution. Manzoor was living his values. Every person on the team received a card with a private message from him and his wife.
5) Protect your culture
There will be people on your team who think that working on your vision and your values and your culture is something dumb, a waste of time. Some people may be fully engaged, others somewhat indifferent, and some wholly disengaged. You may need to make some difficult decisions and part ways with some people. As difficult as it might sound, this is critical for protecting your culture.
Make it fun. You can’t have a good culture without having fun.
After more insights into building a valuable business that runs without you? Check out:
- 5 Reasons Why Your Business Is Too Dependent on You
- Are You Caught in The Owner’s Trap?
- Is My Leadership Team Ready To Take Control?
- Can my business be purpose-driven and profitable?
- The Importance of Baking Work–Life Balance Into Your Business
And find out how you can work with me if you want hands-on guidance on changing your company culture.
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