It’s Valentine’s Day. Do Your Employees Know You Love Them?

3 ways you could be failing at corporate culture

Valentine’s Day is a great time to recognize those you love.  It always feels good to know someone is a happier person because you are in their life.  Your employees included.

Of course, if you live wretchedly the other 364 days a year, one special Valentine treat will not make up for it.  It’s the same with company culture.  If you take one day to tell your employees that they’re valuable, but emit negative vibes the rest of the year, the one day of recognition will feel forced and hollow.

Healthy or Destructive? Where does your corporate culture fall?

As a Centennial team, we’ve identified 3 primary categories of corporate culture: relationships, communication and leadership. These categories are already a natural part of your organization.  The question is, are they a healthy part of your organization?

Inside the 3 categories below, we’ve outlined what a good, healthy culture looks like and what bad, destructive culture looks like. Where do you fit?

The Good and the Bad of Corporate Culture

Relationships are absolutely necessary in a successful organization.  You can’t separate business and relationships.  If you’re not cultivating relationships with your team members, they will go elsewhere.

The good: A healthy relationship among coworkers is marked by an openness to criticism. They know their team members have their best interest in mind, so constructive criticism is received graciously.  Thelove flip side of this is that it needs to be respectfully presented as well. Additionally, good relationships are built on trust.  The individuals in the organization need to know they can rely on each other. They are a team, not competitors.Leaders can build this trust and camaraderie by intentionally getting the team members together.  Create time for celebrations and purposeful engagement.  Be sure everyone is included and treated warmly. This doesn’t have to always be outside work.  For instance, at Centennial, we gather for a team lunch once a month.  We celebrate the month’s birthdays, anniversaries, and have a moment to catch up on the latest team news.

The bad: A lack of healthy relationships leads to a suspicious and judgmental culture. Inappropriate relationships between team member can be particularly devastating.  This article from HR bartender covers this topic well.

Whatever is going on behind closed doors affects the organization.  Your clandestine relationship is not as secret as you think.  It creates waves of destruction throughout the team.  It creates tension and wreaks havoc on the “balance” within your organization. Frankly, it’s best not to fish in the company pond.

Communication – Communication is a constant effort to master.  Its effectiveness impacts every person in your organization.

The good: Good communication involves repetition, clarity and thoughtfulness.  You must provide regular, positive, feedback.  Employees at all level of the org chart need to know they are vital to the success of the organization. Praise publicly, criticize privately.

The vision should be repeated regularly and be clear to all.  Each individual should understand their importance to that vision. There should be alignment before execution.

As a leader, know yourself and know your employees. Be aware of your communication style and what communication works best for your organization.  You’re not truly communicating if no one is getting your message. This circles back to relationships.  Be open to the feedback from team members as they point out flaws in your communication.

The bad: Shifting messages can really do damage to your organization. If your message changes depending on the audience you will be found untrustworthy. And as I mentioned above, trust is a huge component of a healthy culture.  Be consistent and be clear.

Leadership – The top leaders are the rudder of the ship. They set the tone for the organization.  As leaders change, so does the course of the culture.

The good: Positive, open leadership permeates the company in a profitable way. Leadership needs to roll up their sleeves and get to know their people.  They need to know their employees’ needs and feelings.

Leaders need to be authentic.  Their behavior should embody company values.  If it’s posted in the value statement, it needs to be personified in the leaders.

The bad: Elite and aloof leadership creates a chasm in an organization.  If employees view the executives as snobs sitting in corner offices planning the fate of their underlings, there’s not going to be a healthy culture.

Unrealistic expectations from leaders will also break down the culture.  It’s not uncommon for the leadership team to discuss upcoming changes for months–if not years.  However, when the changes are rolled out they cannot expect everyone to get on board and embrace the change.

Corporate Culture Permeates

Many of these categories overlap.  That’s why you can’t just hit one area.  Corporate culture permeates every aspect of your organization. It drives engagement which drives productivity.  It’s a big deal.

One of our favorite definitions of corporate culture comes from a key client and brilliant leader, “Corporate culture is what happens when you leave the room.” He gets it.

How about you?  What have you seen that poisons your culture? How can you show the love to your employees every day of the year?

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