Peter Done is Group CEO and founder of business services specialist Peninsula group.
If you’re anything like me, you started your business with a strong sense of purpose.
A clear vision of the culture you wanted to create. Your own values and morals are hard coded in your company.
But as your business grows, that vision becomes harder to hold. You attract more leaders who have their own vision and opinion about managing staff. And when you branch out into multiple workspaces, it’s hard to keep your managers from branching out too.
If managers adopt their own toxic or harmful values, this will trickle down to all employees. This could quickly mean that you are leading a culture that is a far cry from how you originally hoped your business would operate.
The importance of consistent values
Without enforcing your values from the top down, your business ends up with a weakened sense of identity. And make no mistake, this can be a recipe for chaos and confusion.
You strive to create a supportive environment in which employees build each other up. Instead, your managers encourage a competitive and cut-throat culture to get results. That can then lead to high turnover, terrible morale, a bad reputation and difficulties in recruiting.
Or, if your managers are all pursuing their own unique leadership style, it becomes difficult to pinpoint each company values at all.
This leads to problems with employee engagement and retention. This is evident from a study by Qualtricsemployees whose “company’s mission, vision and values align with their own are much more likely to recommend their employer as a great place to work (70% vs. 25%).” So you can imagine the impact not clear values on your recruitment and retention.
Today, employees are more ethically driven than ever before. In fact, 56% of people wouldn’t work at a company that doesn’t share their values.
So it is clear that you need to establish strong cultural values. Now that we’ve established that, here’s how to maintain these values within a large, growing, or multinational company.
Consistency between management
As your business grows, you delegate more. It is a natural part of growth.
To venture into new areas, you need to trust your managers to make their own decisions. Micromanagement can be detrimental to the overall success of your business.
So you don’t have to intervene and sign every final decision. But it’s important that managers use your core values to influence their own decision-making process.
How do you achieve this?
First, it is essential that you have regular management meetings with your senior leadership team. For me, face-to-face meetings are always preferable to online – nothing beats meeting people in person – but the most important thing is to stick to a regular rotation. During these meetings, you should strive to reinforce your values. This could include praising or highlighting recent achievements that reflect your company culture.
And when discussing plans, try to weave your company values into these discussions. Say you’re planning an upcoming event – how does this keep your values up? If one of your core values is “innovation,” how will that shape your event route or marketing style?
When you regularly emphasize your values in discussions, your management team should soon assimilate them on their own.
In addition to meetings, try to organize soft-skill training. This should give your management team practical direction for addressing behavioral issues or rewarding success within the company.
Your values should also underpin your core HR processes, such as your disciplinary, performance, or appraisal procedures. This provides managers with a step-by-step plan to address day-to-day workforce issues, in line with the culture you want to create.
Whether your workspaces are spread across the local region, country, or the world, it’s harder to keep an eye on your culture if your employees aren’t all under the same roof.
That is why it is essential that you build a strong corporate identity. This may include investing in marketing and branding, such as creating a company motto, publishing branded merchandise, and displaying your values in the physical world, such as murals.
When employees are surrounded by physical reminders of your company values, you can help them bond with them.
Online tools also play a vital role in building an identity across multiple offices. An intranet is a good place to document shared values that all employees can access no matter where they are located. A company newsletter is another powerful way to communicate values - use it as a tool to celebrate employee wins that strengthen your culture.
You can even reward staff who uphold your company values, such as those who show kindness or creativity. Regular competition encourages staff to to strive to your desired corporate culture. And with peer-to-peer nominations, you encourage employees to actively seek and engage with your values on a regular basis.
In addition, it is important to bring all teams together with events or team building activities. This gives managers and employees the chance to network and celebrate their shared goals.
Finally, shared documentation is crucial. Every member of staff should have access to an employee handbook, which ideally outlines your corporate culture. Don’t be afraid to specify what that looks like in real life: How can employees show that they uphold these values?
Lead by example
“Do what I say, not what I do.” That’s a phrase that can cause problems if you follow it.
In every casual gesture or comment, you normalize a certain kind of behavior. This naturally trickles down to your managers, who can pass this on to their employees. This could create a hotbed for other less desirable behaviors to flourish.
So whether your employees work in one building, multiple offices or across the world, it is vital that they understand your company cultures. your actions.
Think: if your company had a personality, how would it behave? Whatever your answer, make sure you manifest it in your daily interactions.