How to build a strong organisational culture

“Organisational culture is not the exclusive domain of larger organisations. Culture is something that all businesses, small, medium or large should strive to get right. – Coach Mi”

The following is a guest post by Sean Conrad of Halogen Software.


Building a strong organisational culture is important for many reasons.

Your organisational culture helps you establish your brand. It also helps to make your workforce more cohesive and productive. And culture has been shown to impact things like employee recruitment, engagement, performance and turnover. So it makes sense to actively create and strengthen their organisational culture.

Some of the ways you can do that is by leveraging your talent management processes, including: recruiting, performance appraisals, goal management/alignment, compensation, succession planning, and employee development. Here are some ideas.

Identify the core competencies that define your culture

Competencies are the behaviours, skills, performance standards or values that lead to high-performance or success in the organisation. They describe “how” you want your employees to accomplish work. They’re used in job descriptions, job requisitions, and performance appraisal forms. By identifying the core competencies that define your culture, then using them in your talent management programmes, you can help to communicate and strengthen your culture.

Start by identifying 4-6 core competencies that define success and embody your organisational culture. Are you known for: customer service, technical expertise, analytical skills, quality, collaboration? The list should be unique to your organisation. Then, spend time defining what those competencies mean and how you want them exemplified in your organisation. You can use commercially available competency libraries to help you in this exercise, but ultimately you want to come up with your own organisation-specific list and definitions.

Develop these core competencies in your employees

Now that you’ve identified the core competencies that define your organisational culture, you need to develop them in your employees. This is where your performance appraisal process can help. By including these core competencies in your performance appraisal forms and assessing everyone’s demonstration of them, you can gauge individual and organisational performance. Then, when a manager identifies a need for improvement during a performance appraisal meeting, they can assign the employee a development plan to help increase their proficiency. When you then look at overall organisational scores, you can identify larger scale learning needs and put programs in place to address them.

Making the assessment and development of core competencies an integral part of your performance appraisal process is an effective way to communicate core cultural competencies and the priority the organisation gives them. It makes them visible to everyone and reminds employees on a regular basis of the culture you’re striving to create or maintain.

Embed your culture in organisational goals

It’s also a good idea to include cultural values in your organisational goals and set targets for improvement. This again helps to communicate and reinforce their priority and builds alignment and focus. For example, if your culture has a strong customer focus you might want to establish a goal to improve customer satisfaction by a certain percentage and measure the results through a customer satisfaction survey. If quality is one of your cultural values, you could set an organisational goal to reduce product defects by a certain target. The important thing is to make the link between your culture and your goals, and make your culture tangible and practical for all employees.

Reward desired behaviours and culture

Don’t forget or underestimate the importance of rewarding desired behaviours and culture. Your reward, recognition and compensation programs can be powerful tools for building up or tearing down your organisational culture. For example, if you embrace teamwork and collaboration, rewarding an individual who achieves their goals at the expense of others can send the wrong message. Instead, make sure you acknowledge and strengthen positive contributions to organisational culture through a variety of formal and informal means. Some organisations use a bonus program to reward stellar behaviour, or an “employee of the month” or similar program.

Hire for cultural fit

When you’re hiring new employees, make sure you consider cultural fit, not just skills and experience. Include core competencies that represent your culture in the job posting to set expectations from the start. Ask questions during the interview process that reveal behaviours and attitudes. Think about whether the candidate shares your organisation’s values and will fit in with the team. By hiring for competencies as well as for professional skills and experience you can ensure cultural fit, reduce turnover and further strengthen your organisation.

Conclusion

Because of its impact on organisational success, culture is something you should work to actively cultivate. Having a strong cohesive culture helps to build alignment and create a more harmonious workplace where employees are engaged and productive. While culture isn’t something easy to build, leveraging your talent management programmes can certainly help.


About the author
Sean Conrad blogs about management, leadership, culture and employee development for Halogen Software, He’s an experienced trainer, speaker and HR specialist.

www.coachmi.com.au

Coach Mi @ FB

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I’m a business coach passionate about helping women make the impossible possible! Do get in touch. I would love to have a chat to see how I can help.

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Comments 4

  1. I had left the job few months back sue to pregnancy and I was working from home. So now I am enjoying it. I have a team 6 virtual associates, I get them the work and they work for me. Some time it is really difficult to manage them. Any tips on building strong organizational culture amongst the Virtual team?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Bina, managing a virtual team is incredibly challenging. It also sounds like your associates sub-contract with you, which adds another layer of distance. My advice would be to start by recruiting right i.e. ensuring that the key aspects your culture is communicated when you select your associates. Be clear about your organisational values. For example, if “reliability” is one of your values, then explain how this would be “lived” in your day-to-day interactions. I would also suggest, if you don’t already have this in place, to include some form of performance appraisal system that measures the values that you want embodied. Hope this helps. Wishing you the all the best! Mi

  2. Culture is something that we really consider when hiring staff. Peoples cultural behaviour varies from each other.I think it is just a matter of understanding, respect and acceptance.We need harmonious working environment for strong organization after all.

  3. What a great article on the importance of building, maintaining, and supporting company culture! One thing that many companies seem to forget about is embedding the goals of the company and instilling them into employees. From an HR perspective, company culture is essential in recruiting because it ensures that you bring the right people on board for your company. The technical side of the company and the employee management is only one element to a successful business, and it is so important to live the company values day in & day out. Great write up & inspiring information!

    Best,
    Erika

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