6 Must Do Aspects of Organizational Culture
Discussions surrounding company culture usually begin with a laundry list of what NOT to do from those accustomed to big companies with little to no value system. They start with the negative and build out from there. Perhaps, however, we should be taking a proactive approach and building a culture not from what we no longer want to have- but what we wish to see come to fruition from all companies in the future.
Not just work “acquaintances” but genuine relationships and connections with the people throughout your team. Ann Hopkins Avery, Director of Professional Development at Baker McKenzie, suggests “building relationships piece by piece so that ultimately you are building trust throughout your workforce. Be sincere. Be yourself, and get to know your colleagues.” Consider ways to keep your team connected. “My team spans Chicago/NY/DC/Toronto so in addition to our regular bi-weekly video calls, I started quarterly (and we may increase the frequency) virtual coffee chats. We schedule a team call, grab a coffee, and spend 30 minutes or so chatting about life outside work. These “chats” been really well received, and the structure has been a fun way to get to know one other better.”
Sweeping changes are never welcomed, not in the workplace or in everyday life. As creatures of habit, most people appreciate taking large changes- be that company culture, a change in leadership or new HR directives- in easy to digest baby steps. Avery has had success introducing new ideas on a temporary basis and building from there, “you can make process incrementally by socializing an idea first and introducing pilot programs to test their success, Then, with supporting data you can help ease everyone on board long-term by showing the results of the successful pilot.” After company leaders see the impact of the change within a smaller context, and, in fact, notice better results, “most people embrace the change.”
Popularized by Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why, this concept has grown increasingly in the last decade and for good reason. It’s important to instill in your employees the “WHY” of your company, the values you have and the inspiration behind them. Give the people working for and around you each day a sense of the greater purpose- something incredibly significant in today’s Millennial workforce. Ann Hopkins Avery tries to ask “why?” frequently. “If there’s a solid answer, then continue doing it, but if we don’t have a great rationale behind a training program or a process, then it’s time to reassess and consider how we can improve.”
Diversity in the workplace is more than hitting a quota to satisfy HR. In fact, when there are people from all sexes, religions, ethnicities, etc. companies find that the progressive assembly of team members often leads to interesting perspectives- and ultimately out of the box wins. “Diversity of thoughts and ideas makes everyone stronger,” said Avery.
Avery is proud of the “bAgile” initiative and mindset at Baker McKenzie, noting that one of the Firm’s initiatives is including more flexibility to improve the lifestyle of its employees and clients. “Our Firm offers flexibility and/or alternative hours, where it is feasible, because we know that our teams and our clients also need flexibility; we find ways for employees to work remotely and flexibly when possible; it’s all about being agile and adapting discover what works best for both our clients and our teams.”
Perhaps one of the most important aspects to a healthy organizational culture is the space or access to effective mentorship. This doesn’t have to come in the form of a structured program, though that is always a welcomed company perk. Instead, simple communication and support of the importance of mentorship can help employees to seek relationships that can make an impact. “I think that finding a mentor — either inside or outside of your organization — is incredibly important for growing professionally, even if it’s someone outside of your industry, having a mentor to bounce ideas off can help lead you to alternative solutions and perspectives that might not come to you otherwise,” said Ann Hopkins Avery.
Kevin Bugielski is the Marketing Manager for Victory Lap, a purpose-driven startup changing the sales game. Avid Snapchatter, SoulCycle lover, newfound runner, but ultimately, a foodie.