Most organisations in the process of scaling their operations and considering the long-term future of their businesses understand that culture and values will play a key role in their success. This might be a factor which helps to explain the trend for the function traditionally always referred to as Human Resources (HR) being increasingly ‘rebranded’ as ‘People and Culture’.
However, the importance of the function is still often misunderstood or underplayed when it comes to the development and maintenance of organisational culture and alignment.
Organisational culture tends to emerge over time, driven by the intentional efforts of leadership, and HR or People and Culture plays a critical role in making sure that your new and existing employees are fully aware and how they can contribute.
Company culture and its values can be signalled through the activities of its leaders and supported by effective HR or People and Culture departments who can help to bring your values to life and sustain behaviour so that there is close alignment with a predefined model or understanding of what your company stands for.
How Does Culture Develop?
Startups and small businesses are typically driven by the personal opinions and approaches of their leaders. The various traditions, processes, rituals and work-based attitudes generally manifest themselves into ‘the way things work around here’ or culture.
For years this can work without changing the way your company does things and even without a designated team or person to handle organisational culture activities. For example, the way important issues are debated and conflicts resolved might happen in a vastly different way from company to company, because of the preferences and personalities of the leadership team.
In some organisations, heated discussions are encouraged with all members of the business being drawn in to have their say. Other businesses will make decisions and settle disputes quietly and systematically by those who have the most authority in the company.
However, as organisations grow, it can be a challenge for culture to be sustained and the effectiveness of your original values and approaches may even come into question.
At this stage, many organisations try to actively shape their culture to line up with who they want to be and what they want to achieve. Again, leadership is key here, but so are the many processes and activities that fall within the HR or People and Culture department’s scope.
Creating a Values Blueprint
Eventually, many organisations will try to map out the way their values work within their company and how their culture evolves in the future.
One way to do this is to open up a forum where the organisation’s leaders consider what the current values are and how they would like to frame the development of their culture in the future. Effectively, this is a values and culture blueprint.
This will help to create a snapshot of the current cultural reality of the company and gain an understanding of the common traits found in your business. It also provides and opportunity for your culture to mature and develop with conscious and robust organisational alignment.
Making Company Culture Stick
Good HR or People and Culture professionals and teams can help to facilitate your values blueprint creation and will have a unique role in ensuring that an organisation’s culture will continue and thrive.
Through the establishment of appropriate people policies, programs and strategies, your team can support and strengthen the core values and help your organisation to align more effectively.
Specific initiatives that can develop and support your company culture include:
Make sure new members are chosen based around core values and that they receive the right kind of socialization to help them fit in. This is just as important for junior members of the team as for more senior individuals.
A good onboarding program should be designed to familiarise newcomers about the employer’s values system, norms and desired organisational behaviours.
During this process, the HR or People and Culture teams can also serve as an information hub that individuals can communicate with to learn about the company’s methods and approaches to various activities.
As one of the first departments all individuals come into contact with, it’s also important that all of the HR or People and Culture team embody the company’s values themselves so that they set a good example for new members.
Cordiality, professionalism, diligence and characteristics that are more unique to your business can all be first communicated to your new employees through the behaviour of your HR or People and Culture team.
Positive reinforcement works. Various programs that recognise and reward certain behaviour can truly bring your values to life by giving employees an incentive to promote the things you care about.
You may not think this is necessary as long as your employees are made aware of what you expect from them, but the impact on motivation can have a huge benefit to the way your employees feel and the dedication they bring to their roles.
It is easy to jump to rewarding people through bonuses and salary increases, but, often, simple recognition or appreciation can help to create a higher level of and more sustained commitment to your values and a feeling of inclusion.
Also, by HR or People and Culture teams highlighting the performance of people who can uphold the company’s values more, employees are given real-life role models to follow. Specific stories about these positive behaviours also create the heritage or folklore of the organisation.
Internal management development programs run by your HR or People and Culture team are an important chance to make sure that your values are reinforced to your future leadership team, as their career paths develop and they are promoted to more senior positions.
Management development programs are an effective way to sustain organisational alignment at the highest levels and can positively impact the way your corporate culture evolves and matures as you scale.
Want to Learn More About Company Culture?
If you’d like to learn more about how you can shape the organisational culture of your business, get in touch with us at SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL.