A great workplace culture is like an iconic figure in history. It is unique, strong, and resilient and stands for something significant. And just like that iconic figure, it has a legendary story behind its manifestation, one that involves pain and investment. Have you ever thought about what’s the most important component of any company’s culture? It is not the amenity gimmicks, not colours, and certainly not free food. Those are just ancillary value additions, the real deal is the people inside the company since they have the power to make or break the entire culture.
Most people don’t realise that ‘leadership’ is a very subjective term and can differ from one person to another. While it may be about power and control for some, it is about direction and responsibility for many others. And the ‘why’ of leadership as well as ‘what’ that leaders imbibe in the work of their employees is the key factor in defining the ‘strength’ of a leader.
After the ‘why’, the ‘how’ of the assigned work comes as the next key aspect and that is where a strong leader is able to leverage his skills. This shows the deep impact that a strong management has on the day to day activities of your core team. It’s an unsaid truth that most people leave their jobs due to their managers and they continue with a job again due to their managers only.
In India, there are decently good numbers of organizations who run various employee engagement activities including volunteering for NGOs and orphanages.. The employees can be implored to devote a certain amount of free time during a weekend in such activities like teaching a special skill to under-privileged children.
Beyond the usual benefits of team building, getting to know your colleagues, such activities also bring everyone in the team closer to their sense of purpose. Great leaders and managers know that nothing matters to an employee more than getting appreciation and respect not just from them but also their peers.
Companies that have a transparent work culture tend to have the most satisfactory work force. And with good reason, because everyone tends to trust everyone in such an environment. Transparency and honesty are two way streets i.e. if I am asking it from you, then you arse getting it from me. A smart leader will realize that this also applies to loyalty, which is a crucial aspect of a strong work culture. Success and failure are part of every journey, but a loyal and honest workforce will make all the difference between staying down and getting back up.
Brilliant performers and kind hearted people
Organizations often fall for top performing employees. They prefer employing people with a track record of rocking performance behind them. While this is a common thought that a top performer will perform well in a new organization, it is important to evaluate the culture fit at the same time. More important than the person who is always looking to hit the ball for the goal, is the person who steers the ball carefully for the best shot and then passes it on to his team mate. With this attitude, kind hearted team players make a mark for themselves and encourage the growth of the whole team, not just their own.
Only a paycheck does not help in keeping employees aligned with the company culture. A great culture also creates a unique sense of belongingness. Employees should feel that they are a crucial part of the company and relate to the long term mission.
Belongingness comes by reinforcing the common sense of purpose in the team and even simple activities like town-hall meetings, team lunches, and get togethers add to the same in a substantial way. The best teams function like families, in the sense that they may quarrel over small things, but whenever the whole ship is in danger, they stand together as one unit.
It is a great idea to also involve employees in deciding their own rewards and team benefits in general. One may also think of asking employees on how they want to learn a new skill or how they want to choose their work schedule. Such a level of transparency lifts employee morale and takes their engagement to a whole new level.
Up-skilling the team
If there is something intangible after self respect and peer consensus, something that employees value a lot, is the amount of learning that they receive in an organisation. The best part is that you can code this up in your company culture right from the foundation, by holding knowledge sharing sessions, brainstorming meetups and interesting kinds of workshops.
A company’s culture is a combination of multiple facets with dimensions involving all kinds of possibilities. The question is, where and how would you like to steer it?
( Niddhii Kumar, Head of Internal Strategy, Knowlarity Communications Private Limited )