Five Simple Steps to Improve Company Culture

Last week I talked about five reasons your company culture matters. This week I want to offer five steps to improve your company culture. These steps came from an infographic I saw from the Digital Information Age. You might not offer the cultural benefits like Google, Ikea, and Amazon, but there are small steps you can take to improve your culture.

Step 1- Encourage conversation

Given the state of things in the US, this may seem counter-intuitive. Google uses micro-kitchens where employees can gather and discuss topics. What can you set up in your organization where employees can converse?

Can you host a lunch & learn to create new product or service offerings in your company? Can you develop an intrapreneur challenge within your company? Would holding these discussions develop new opportunities faster? Before you do, make sure you are culturally ready. I’ve written many blogs on the framework to have in place for intrapreneurs.

Step 2- Minimize meetings

Amazon has a two-pizza rule for their meetings. If the meetings are larger than what two pizzas could feed, the meeting is too big. This means there are more ideas to be sifted through and the time to make a decision expands.

Are there standard meetings you hold that could be shortened or eliminated? Do you use project charters or meeting agendas for your Zoom meetings? Can you choose a certain time of the week, say Tuesdays and Thursdays between one and three where no meetings can be scheduled?

I know several companies that have used this technique and their employee stress went way down because this engineering group had time to work on their projects. This helps improve your culture.

Step 3- Ask the five whys

Along with encouraging conversation, the opportunity to ask questions should always be present. Train your employees to ask why five times when trying to better understand something or get to a root cause.

If you want to get fancy you can use a fishbone diagram. This guides your use of the five why process. You brainstorm around the 6M’s -Man (generically), Machine, Method, Measurement system, Mother Nature (environment), and Material.

The point is, you want to encourage questions and seeking knowledge in your culture.

Step 4- Keep it casual and inclusive

IKEA has a culture where managers don’t have business cards, and everyone operates on a first name basis. Everyone that works there realizes they are in the business together. How do your leaders relate to the organization? Do they focus on providing a welcome and inclusive culture? Do they welcome viewpoints from employees with different backgrounds and experiences?

Step 5 – Lead with empathy and respect

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important for building a successful team than IQ. I’m sure we all know smart people who have zero EQ. No one wants to work with these people as part of a team. They might work better with little interaction, so find the right seat for them on the bus.

Evaluate your leaders on how well they treat employees with empathy and respect. To get results, you have to engage your employees. Measure your leaders on how well they perform those aspects of their job as well as delivering results.

If you follow these five steps to improve your company culture, you’ll have an even better company in no time!

As always, it is an honor to serve you, and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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