Look at almost any successful and long-standing business, and you will notice a common thread: a positive culture woven throughout the team.
In business, there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to fostering and sustaining a vibrant workplace culture. But from my experience running a small business — Randle Communications, a public relations and public affairs firm in Sacramento — and leading a team day-to-day, there are several proven methods to produce a strong company culture that boosts productivity, decreases turnover and enhances employee engagement.
Focus on the Right Team
At the core of a great organization is a team of “we, not me” professionals. It’s not enough to bring high-performing individuals together. Without a commitment to each other and the belief in the power of teamwork, small fractures in the foundation of your organization will manifest and negatively fester over time, ruining a positive team culture. I believe a powerful team of “we” people dwarfs the efforts of a handful of all-star contributors any day.
Hire for Culture First
While talent isn’t limitless and industry leaders need to identify qualified applicants, I’ve found it is more advantageous to hire for culture first. Many skills, especially for entry or midlevel jobs, can be taught over time if the employee reflects and embraces the culture of the organization.
I recommend measuring the intangible qualities that complement your company culture. Whether that’s a demonstrated commitment to success, a solutions-focused mindset or an infectious enthusiasm for your work, these qualities will drive greater results for your organization than the individual with a deep tactical resume.
This philosophy was put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic. Could our team-focused culture survive outside the walls of our office when everyone transitioned to remote work? We believed it could, and we’re proud to say it absolutely did. Our team-first approach was cemented long before the global health crisis of 2020, and it was the key to our ability to sustain success during the pandemic.
The foundation of an organization is its people, and to focus on outcomes only and ignore your most valuable assets is shortsighted. Investing in your team should be a daily priority. By hiring for culture over a specific skill set, you will build a team that is more successful. You can teach skills, but the other characteristics are essential to supporting your team.
Certainly, talented employees want generous compensation, benefits and fun activities at work. But I have found that motivated team members yearn for challenging and fulfilling work. They also want constant feedback as to their performance and mentorship from more senior team members from whom they can learn. This will guarantee that they perform at a high level.
And while the day-to-day work is critical to your organization’s success, you also need to constantly think about the future and paint the picture of what that looks like for the team. Where is your organization going? What exciting and innovative ideas are in the future? How can every team member help build the road to get there?
Live, Breathe and Grow Your Culture
While retreats and vision statements are powerful, if your mission and culture are only discussed during quarterly meetings or annual retreats, you’re missing an opportunity to reinforce and weave together important pieces of your organization daily.
Exponentially grow the number of cultural ambassadors at your company by empowering team members at all levels to display culture through leadership opportunities. Culture is a daily philosophy and practice that must be at the core of leadership communications and project execution. It’s important to create pathways and platforms for team members to talk about organizational culture, whether during staff events and trainings or through internal communications.
Culture is a big investment in time, yet the dividends are priceless.
Jeff Randle is the president and CEO of Randle Communications, which has been distinguished by Inc. Magazine as Best Workplaces in 2019 and 2021 and has been on Sacramento Business Journal’s Best Places to Work list every year since 2009.
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