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What Makes a Strong Culture in an Organisation?

Emphasis on Company Culture

Culture has been one of the biggest words in the topic of organisational management in recent times. And such an emphasis is warranted. It is defined as the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterises the company.

A strong culture means having every staff convey the intended company branding through their words and actions. Conversely, a weak culture may result in the company being seriously misrepresented by improper actions of individuals from the company. Customers will usually pin their experiences on the company, especially when it is their first contact.  When one thinks of the service providers in the restaurants, retail shops and even online customer service lines, the impressions of these companies are formed based on the interaction between consumers and staff. Essentially, weak culture imposes a higher risk through a lack of adherence to processes, procedures and behaviours which can lead to unexpected and adverse outcomes.

Building Strong Culture

Many companies learn about organisational culture but often do not emphasise much – from mission statement to policies to values to incentives. These efforts integrate minimally with the daily lives of the employees. Building a strong culture is far more complicated than completing a checklist. It demands strong influence on all employees to believe in and adopt the intended culture.

There are 5 factors of an organisation that can be scrutinised to aim for a stronger culture. Every organisation will have different cultures and should adjust these different factors accordingly.

1. Leadership

Leaders are extremely important not just because they set the intended culture but have the onus to demonstrate and uphold it. Leaders hold the key to inspire others to behave in a certain manner and hold the authority to address deviations from the expected behaviour. The leaders must believe in the intended culture and commit to uphold it as this is paramount to building a strong culture.

Disruptive leadership easily cuts of information flow from the top and throws the employees into confusion with conflicting and misrepresented instructions. Leaders should be trained to communicate well both upwards and downwards to ensure that information flow is not cut off.

2. Workload

Workload refers to the work assignments delegated to the employees, which should be clear and adhered to. All employees are present to work. Having a clear understanding about the workload helps to set expectations that prevent negative outbursts or breakdowns which can be extremely detrimental with effects such as high staff turnovers. This leads to the need in frequent onboarding and training new staff which causes disruptions in setting practices of the organisation.

3. Capability

Adequate training to enhance individual capability increases autonomy. This means freeing up time and energy of the managers to address more productive matters than to micromanage employees. Training should be structured to prepare the employees to reach an autonomy level at the current agreed workload.

4. Relationships

Relationships can make or break the culture of a workplace. Fostering strong relationships laterally and vertically allows the members of an organisation to trust and depend on one another to accomplish tasks. Undercutting co-workers for personal gains can be prevented by implementing policies. One good way to restrain such disruptive behaviour is to have team incentives to create common goals among the employees.

Leaders also play an imperative role in the relationship building process, having to manage their own relationships as well as those under them. Learning how to handle disputes amiably and effectively will be a useful skill for leaders.

5. Controls

Controls are in place to ensure that expected results are achieved. Through sampling, feedback systems, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the managers can monitor the performance of employees and make corrective actions to prevent future aberrations.

However, controls must be set carefully as tight controls can create a lack of trust between management and employees which hinder the relationship building. Trust is one of the factors that can significantly boost the employee productivity through higher employee engagements and more open conversations about work. Therefore, controls should be used as mitigation tools rather than coercion tools to drive employees to behave in certain manners.

Conclusion

Changing organisational culture is by no means an easy feat. It takes hard and long work which can be uncomfortable for the management. However, a thriving workplace is built on a good culture. Based on a survey, 86% of the millennials which comprises the majority of the young working population, will be inclined to take a pay cut for a company with the values that align with theirs.

All in all, the mentioned 5 factors will serve as great starting point to evaluate what kind of culture is actually being set in the organisation rather than what is listed on the checklist.

About BlackStorm Consulting

BlackStorm Consulting is a boutique growth consultancy firm that specialises in corporate strategy, profit management and investment management. We mainly serve clients in four sectors: FinTech, Gaming, Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT), and manufacturing.

Our clients and connections are internationally present and range from small and medium sized businesses, MNCs, to government agencies.

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