What does culture really mean?
Culture, like other buzzwords such as “self-care” or “wellness,” can feel blurry or undefined. A company may say they have a good culture, but how do they define it? Do department sub-cultures starkly contrast within the same organization? Is being “fast-paced” a hidden message for “hustle” culture? And why does culture matter so much?
We have collectively learned over the past two years that culture does not mean ping pong tables, frequent happy hours or brightly colored beanbag chairs. Real culture isn’t only the what of a place, it’s also the how.
- How does the team actually get things done?
- How do the leaders define the company’s values, and do they really use them to make decisions?
- How are role expectations communicated?
- How do you ensure that each employee knows and values their unique purpose at the company?
- How is the team experiencing work/life integration? (Note, we didn’t say work/life balance.)
- How is bad behavior defined and addressed?
The answers to these questions will help you begin to define your workplace culture.
How do you create culture in the workplace?
First, if you have a company or are part of an existing team, your workplace culture already exists. But is it the culture you need?
Though it’s natural for different departments to organically create sub-cultures, leaders must establish a universal set of behaviors and associated values that are standard for all. It’s essential to articulate a universal culture that all departments follow in order to drive high performance across the organization. This ensures employees have a clear focus and autonomy to deliver exceptional work that aligns with the company’s vision.
It’s important for both the company and the employees to find their right counterparts. After all, keeping talent is about connecting the right people with the right positions and providing them the resources—and space—to flourish.
Here are four ways we define our culture at treetree.
- 1. Leave your ego at the door.
- This has nurtured and protected treetree’s culture from day one. Ego is unnecessary—and there’s no room for it. When a teammate is surrounded by people who are in it for each other and not for themselves, it elevates the team’s emotional well-being, dynamic and outputs. Our CEO Becca Apfelstadt set out to create a marketing agency that did not celebrate an ego-driven, burned-out culture. She speaks about that here in Together Digital’s Workplace Culture Panel.
- 2. Be open and willing to accept feedback—and listen to it.
- At treetree, transparency and open communication are paramount. Leaders must be willing to listen to their employees about what’s working well, what’s not, where employees work most effectively, or if a daily huddle is too frequent. When leaders hear feedback from their team, they must listen, and they must take action. Let the entire team help design what kind of company you want to be.
- 3. Authenticity.
- Healthy workplace culture demands companies and leaders be crystal clear on their vision and core values as they shape and evolve their company. This is their opportunity to make decisions for the business based on the company’s values. And leaders must be authentic. Employees will no longer tolerate dissonance between what the leaders say they value and what they show.
- 4. Establish psychological safety for your team to design their own workday.
- Allow your employees to design their workday, and don’t judge them for their schedules. If someone fits in a 1 p.m. workout class or needs to hop offline to grab the kids from school, it shouldn’t mean they’re viewed as less than their peers for having a different schedule. If work is getting completed and meetings are attended, there shouldn’t be a judgment about how the rest of their day went.
If you’ve found yourself on one side or the other of The Great Resignation, it might be time to re-evaluate workplace culture.
The Great Resignation has been a giant wake-up call to employers that they need to do more than provide the easy keeping-up-with-Silicon-Valley perks. Gallup recently asked employees what they look for most in an employer, and the data showed that employees of all generations rank “the organization cares about employees’ wellbeing” in their top three criteria. Furthermore, for millennials and Gen Z, it was number one.
Here are three behaviors we practice to keep our trees feeling valued:
- 1. Make resourcing a high priority.
- When team members know exactly what’s expected of them, they feel a greater sense of purpose and a greater ability to deliver on projects. Create a behavior or standard process to know what each team member needs to have in order to get their work done. This way, a strong manager can help manage workloads, facilitate collaboration among team members and remove roadblocks.
- 2. Bring your whole self to work.
- It’s unnatural to compartmentalize who you are as a person. Gone are the days of a work/life balance. We’re on the precipice of work/life integration. If employees don’t feel a distinct purpose—one they’re passionate about—they’ll look elsewhere to find it.
- 3. Celebrate each other’s strengths.
- Similar to our research on how marketing and sales teams can reach alignment, leaders can align their teams by celebrating each contributor’s unique strengths. When contributors are consistently forced to work outside of their natural talents, it’s exhausting and can lead to burnout. The best leaders are able to identify each person’s key strength and allow that natural talent to shine. This will ultimately lead to higher productivity, increased team collaboration and less turnover.
We’re here for you.
We hope these keys will help you unlock your next step in the great cultural conversation. Until you find your talent matches, we can help fill in the gaps. When there simply aren’t enough people to get the work done and you need feet-on-the-street, down-in-the-trenches support, we’ve got you.
Staff augmentation is a unique offering at treetree of skilled marketers who can serve as extensions of your marketing team—on-site with you. They’re quick at learning your business, and they’re backed by the support of our entire agency.
Let us know how we can bring your team creative firepower and help you cross the 2021 finish line.