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Corporate culture 1Usually, you can sense a company’s vibe the moment you walk in the door. Sometimes it takes a little longer when you have to go through security. But the first person you talk to is a tell-tale sign of what’s going on behind the scenes.company cultureAs a consultant who pollinates like a honey-bee, I get to see and be in all kinds of offices. Extra-large to extra small. Publicly owned, privately owned, and family owned. No two are exactly alike, but there are key things I always notice once I’m behind closed doors.

Integrity * Loyalty * Accountability * Happiness * Team * Vision

These are my own indicators of a healthy corporate culture, and there are many more. But in my line of work, feeling or not feeling those is what tells me if I’m walking into a thriving corporate company cultureculture, or a toxic, don’t-wanna-be-here kind of place.

Whether I’m partnering with, subbing for, or promoting a company, spending time in their trenches inevitably gives me a real feel of their corporate culture. In case you’re not clear what that is, here’s how Inc. defines it:

The shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.

That’s a very corporate definition. And companies spend a lot of time and money to know where they stand. But if you want to take the temperature of your own business or one that you’re considering working with or for, HCG, a respected consulting group, recommends five non-intimidating questions to ask any employee from the receptionist to a senior V.P.

company cultureWithout going deep into your data, metrics and all the other hard evidence that something might be rotten in Denmark, the answers to these simple questions will speak volumes of a “State of the Culture”.company culture

What if you don’t like the answers?

Do something about it. Unless you don’t care or are in denial that your company’s bottom line is suffering, attrition is high, performance is low, clients are out the door, your best people are “looking”, and the list goes on.

What can you do?

Plenty. But we’ll start with conceptual basics. Then we’ll share what Intivix did.

Create a vision and team.

Enroll your people in your company’s vision and their invaluable role in it goes a long way.  Feeling that they’re actually an integral part of a something greater, where growth and opportunity abounds instills a sense of integrity, loyalty, accountability, and purpose.  If you value them, they will value you. 

Be open to feedback.

People want to know that their voices are heard. A suggestion box is just the start. Walk around, engage employees for input and honest opinions. Surveys (anonymous is good), focus groups and ongoing discussions.  Not only will you discover endless ways to improve your culture, but people will also feel valued, empowered, and part of a solution rather than your problem.

75% of employees would stay longer at an organization that listens to and addresses their concerns Ultimate Software

If you’re not sure how to do it, or afraid you won’t get the truth, hire a professional from the outside.

65% of employees who don’t feel they can approach their manager with any type of question are actively disengaged Gallup

Coach privately. Acknowledge good work publicly.

There’s no faster way to create a toxic environment than to reprimanded or criticize anyone in front of their co-workers or a customer. It should be addressed in private. What’s more, mistakes are opportunities for coaching and feedback, not a dressing-down. You never know when there’s a star waiting to shine.

68% of employees who receive accurate and consistent feedback feel fulfilled in their jobs Clutch

Public acknowledgment can work wonders. And can come in any form. Perks, days off, or even more empowering, a new opportunity or promotion. Of course, nothing brings a smile like a little do-re-mi.

My favorite boss would just leave notes in my chair. It fed my ego and made me work harder. People thrive on feeling appreciated and valued. It’s the fuel that keeps us running.

Last but not least. Richard Branson nailed it.company culture What they do at Intivix.

I’m just a stringer. But Intivix is one of those companies that you know right away they are committed to a healthy if not extraordinary corporate culture. The more I work with them, the more obvious it is.company cultureIntivix knows motivation and job satisfaction are key to their business, and they take it seriously. In fact, that’s why they created the Intivix Culture Club. Their special OPs force who plans and organizes team building exercises, fun outings, and volunteer events.