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16 signs of a great organizational culture

Organizations with great cultures are more successful- people are energized and can't wait to join your business, and staff turnover is low. So how do you gauge if your business has a healthy culture? Consultant Richard Stupple explains.

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Signs of a great company culture by professional services consultant Richard Stupple

Consultant Richard Stupple

"When employees hear leaders of the organisation talking about the mission, it gives them energy. When they see leaders who are energized, they’ll act that way, too – attitude is contagious… is yours worth catching?

There’s nothing better than working in an organisation with a great culture. You wake up every day looking forward to getting back to work on the mission with people you enjoy being around. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter how much money you earn or how many weeks holiday you get; when you work in a poor environment, you still go home tense and stressed at the end of each day… and it isn’t worth it!  Read this great article by Richard Stupple of Boxchange

So how do you know if you have a great culture in your organisation?

This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but here are 16 signs that a great culture exists in your organisation, department or team:

1. Change is welcome
People aren’t afraid of change. It’s not that everyone likes change, but most have been through it so many times, and have seen the leaders manage change with care and dignity, that they no longer dread it and don’t resist it. There’s an attitude of “bring it on” and your staff are change-nimble.

2. The team believes they are more important than the task
There is a sense that, as employees, they really matter. They aren’t just people filling tasks; but the culture, systems, language, and structure communicate value. Even in tough times with salary freezes or benefit changes, the vibe is still, "You matter!"

3. Turnover is low
What is your staff turnover rate? What do people say on their exit surveys? The cost of replacing employees can be substantial – far more than fixing what’s broken. Remember people tend to leave bosses and the work environment - not jobs!

4. People can’t wait to join your team
They have heard about your company or division and they can’t wait to be a part of it. You have no problem attracting the best talent.

5. Top leaders are the real deal
They are authentic leaders not just managers or issuers of tasks. They want everyone to succeed and they encourage growth through coaching and mentoring. They nurture their people and use positive, inspiring language no matter how much pressure they’re under.

6. No forced fun
It’s not “just a job.” Employees really enjoy the company of the people they work with and they don’t see work events as forced fun.

7. Gossip isn’t tolerated
It isn’t just the senior leaders calling for people to take the high road in their communication. At every level, gossip is shut down, by everyone, with an encouragement to speak directly to the individual.

8. Great communication
If there’s great communication, it lessens the need for gossip because people know what’s going on. From the top to the bottom, people communicate. Employees are not surprised with information and it is communicated well in advance.

9. “Terrorists” self-select
The terrorists (cynics, knockers and “purveyors of doom”) either change their behavior or they leave the organisation as other team members refuse to accept negative and destructive influences. “Pity parties” never take place and discussions around the coffee machine are positive and constructive.

10. People are energised
When employees hear leaders of the organisation talking about the mission, it gives them energy. When they see leaders who are energized, they’ll act that way, too – attitude is contagious… is yours worth catching?

11. Your company is growing
People want to be a part of something great. They will work hard to help you deliver on results and offer up ideas and innovation willingly. They will gladly help you exceed your growth goals.

12. Performance standards are exceeded
You see employees exceed performance standards and results go through the roof. When they understand how their job fits in with the organisational strategy, they can craft their day to be results oriented and accept personal accountability.

13. Your clients are happy
Employees who are happy, and aligned with your mission and vision, give top-notch customer service.

14. People smile and laugh
When people are happy, you can walk the hallways and see people smiling, enjoying conversations, and having a good time, even while they are working hard. It doesn’t mean that work doesn’t get done.

15. Lateral leadership is outstanding
Leading people below you is easy. That is, it’s easy compared to leading people next to you over whom you have no authority. A great culture sees people coming alongside their peers to encourage, or occasionally to correct and redirect.

16. Fear doesn’t exist
People don’t fret if they say the wrong thing in front of the wrong person. There aren’t hushed conversations because of the fear of what will happen if they are overheard. Employees in an organisation with a great culture can walk into the boss’s office with a concern and walk out knowing they were heard.

This list might be discouraging if you aren’t working in an environment with such a healthy culture - you may not have even realised the culture isn’t all it can be until you read this list. However, you have the power to change the culture, one day at a time!

Building a healthy culture starts with a few determined people … but, ultimately, as a leader, “if it is to be, it is up to me”.

It's not easy, but if you get it right, the pay-off is beyond your wildest dreams!

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Interested to measure your current culture?

Contact Richard Stupple at Boxchange.