Workplace culture isn’t an aspect of business that runs easily and successfully on its own accord. Neglecting to monitor and develop this area has the potential to allow a negative, toxic, apathetic, or otherwise dysfunctional culture to creep in and damage your business before you even realise it.

The key to cultivating your business’s ideal workplace culture involves this indispensable approach: intentionality on a consistent basis.

As Peter Drucker once famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” .

What exactly does that mean?

Well, without considering your company culture, your business strategy can’t succeed. Workplace culture isn’t an “HR thing” and it’s not something that only matters in large corporations. In fact, it needs to be considered in strategic decisions by all types and sizes of businesses.

Let’s take Uber as an example. In 2017, this much lauded unicorn publicly revealed their ruthless culture when a prior employee made a public post about the sexual harassment and discrimination that she had experienced while working there. Many other complaints soon followed, unveiling a toxic culture of bullying and sexual harassment.

Co-founder Travis Kalanick was forced to resign and Dara Khosrowshahi (former CEO of Expedia) was hired to replace him. Khosrowshahi spoke at the end of 2018 about having spent the entire first year as CEO trying to rebuild the company’s external image, internal culture, and settling lawsuits.

In the aftermath of this issue, Uber seemed to understand how a negative culture can impact a company’s financial prospects in the long run.  They released a statement, acknowledging their toxic culture as a risk in their IPO filing that investors should take into consideration:

“Our workplace culture and forward-leaning approach created significant operational and cultural challenges that have in the past harmed, and may in the future continue to harm, our business results and financial condition,” they wrote. “A failure to rehabilitate our brand and reputation will cause our business to suffer.”

If your business strategy doesn’t involve developing your culture, then you’re leaving it to chance. As Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) is quoted as saying: “My main job today: I work hard at helping to maintain the culture”.

Neglecting your workplace culture can potentially lead to:

  • Difficulty in attracting great employees who want to understand/enjoy the work environment they’re considering joining
  • Creation of inconsistent performance expectations and lost productivity
  • Spiralling into dysfunction with high levels of employee turnover, employee grievances, and reputational/financial risk.

 

Tips to keep intentional with your culture:

  1. Hire Slowly and fire quickly

Imagine if when you start recruiting for a role, you believe you will need to hire for that role five times before finding the right person.

I’m not saying it is the case, but if you use that mindset, you are likely to take the process a lot more seriously, strategically, and slowly!

There aren’t many ways to make a bigger cultural impact than through making a great, or bad, hire. Resist the temptation to rush decisions, ignore your instincts or just get a “bum on a seat”. This will certainly cost you more in the long run.

  1. Invest in your current and emerging leaders

There’s probably no greater source of influence on culture than you and your leaders. Invest in their personal and professional development to help create a culture underpinned by transparency and trust.

  1. Monitor and review

Use cultural and engagement surveys, along with other internal communications to receive ongoing feedback from your teams about the culture and what issues or opportunities they identify.

Being intentional with your culture can be difficult when your business is growing, or at times like these when so many teams are working remotely. But the alternative may have long lasting negative impacts on the ability for your business to thrive.

 

What steps do you take to be intentional around your workplace culture?