Striving to improve company culture is a noble goal, especially in the wake of Glassdoor’s recent Top Companies for Culture & Values list. While “improving your company culture” might sound like a daunting task, it’s actually much easier to do than you might think. Here’s how.
Stop using phrases like ‘improve your company culture.’
It’s a phrase that sucks the life out of things, as does every other piece of jargon that you’re almost certainly in the habit of using. There’s nothing wrong with peppering your memos and emails and conversations with acronyms and jargon, but there is something wrong with it if that’s all you’re doing. Make a conscious effort to occasionally speak informally and put some personality into your communication with others. The more we train ourselves to talk the way that normal people do, the less we’ll feel like our job is slowly turning us into a robot.
Don’t make everything about money.
I run a small business, so I appreciate how important the financials are. And yes, I know that every business decision is fundamentally about money. But that doesn’t mean every conversation has to inevitably circle back to profit and savings and long-term investments. All of us want to make money, but all of us also want to believe that we’re leaving the world better than we found it. So give your people the opportunity to do so, whether it’s organizing a volunteer food drive or sharing a story in the company newsletter about one of your employee’s charity work in Africa. Show them that yours is a company that does something good.
Don’t focus all of your thoughts on pleasing your customers.
If the working world has any resemblance to our personal lives, then companies are the parents and customers are your 6-year-old children who want everything RIGHT NOW and who will often cry if they don’t get their way. You absolutely need to cater to them, just like you try to give your children everything you possibly can. But just like you can’t focus on your children’s needs to the exclusion of paying attention to your spouse, you can’t spend so much energy worrying about creating the perfect customer service experience that you forget to take care of the people who are providing that experience. Besides, sometimes your customers are completely unreasonable and downright rude. If you choose every so often to side with your employees in a dispute they’re having with one of those kinds of customers, you’ll go a long way in endearing yourself to those employees forever.
Fundamentally, improving your culture really only requires you to treat the people you work with like people, rather than pieces of your corporate machine. Or you could interpret ‘culture’ in the sense of going to a foreign country and reveling in the local culture, in which case you should invest in leis or straw hats or a crepe-making machine in your breakroom. I know I like crepes. Maybe that’ll do the trick.