The Culture Engine

Transform your organization’s culture into something you can be proud of.

Culture has become an elusive ideal for companies. If you want to unleash your organization’s full potential, mend your culture.

Reconditioning your company’s culture does not happen overnight. And Zappos knows that it is an achievement that is worth the time and effort. Amazon would not have paid Zappos huge amount of money if it was not impressed with its exceptional culture.

According to research, organizational culture is paramount in engaging more loyal employees and customer, thus, securing success and future existence of a company.

So, how to start transform your culture? Read this article to find out.

You’ll also learn:

  • Why Zappos pays new hires to quit
  • How a mission statement can help you outlast your competitors
  • A five-step method for addressing people who resist the new culture

Revolutionize your work culture with an organizational constitution.

To revolutionize your work culture in order to overhaul your business, start by creating an organizational constitution documenting the core principles.

Here’s how it works:

Specific standards and rights for employees are provided by organizational constitutions. There are guidelines used to control an equivocal situation and be in control of your performance.

Instead of insulting your colleagues in an office argument, you would carefully filter your words, because the organizational constitution has zero-tolerance policy for rude conduct between co-workers.

An organizational constitution should also lead the company toward its goals and targets aside from governing office behaviors and performance standards.

Tony Hsieh established Zappos with an intention to have a familial working atmosphere for his employees to enjoy, so he identified ten values to create the basis of the company culture.

Without an agreement to rule the organization as a whole, a company will have a tough time developing a good work culture, which makes or breaks a success.

Zappos’ employees enjoy their jobs and as a result, they work with enthusiasm that extends to their customers, which is a big plus for the company. And because customers have associated this enthusiasm with Zappos, Amazon considered it as a major incentive for purchasing the company in 2009.

And because when there’s a formal agreement covering how people should be treated inside the office, everyone feels respected and enthusiastic.

A 2013 Gallup study discovered that engaged employees are more enthusiastic and productive, with better customer satisfaction and less turnover.

Before looking at your organization, look at yourself.

Determine the values you hold dear to yourself. This is important before you establish the constitution that you wish to be followed by your people. Inspiring a culture as unique and productive as Zappos’s requires looking at your own capabilities.

All eyes are on you as your people’s living testimony of the rules that govern your organization and hence, its culture. Your example will either make or break your culture.

How?

It all varies on your behavior. Defying your culture would send a wrong message to your employees who might think that you do not respect the constitution you have established, which was only short-lived.

Failing to reprimand people who break the rules is equivalent to letting your people not follow the organizational constitution. Thus, living by your organization’s constitution is paramount to changing your company’s culture.

Create a personal constitution—a personal statement comprising four values, and four behaviors that correspond to those values.

Work on your purpose first or your personal mission statement. For example, the author’s purpose is to push workplace leaders to inspire and discover values.

Search for your behaviors and values that reflect them. Imagine what you will be proud to be known for such as creativity, stability, and the like. Then assign a clear approach to each value.

For “wonder” as a value, a great approach might be to read at least two books a month or ask more questions.

After creating personal constitution, it is time for leadership philosophy or how you believe people should be led.

Use the same strategy to set your company’s purpose, values and behaviors.

After establishing your personal constitution, work on organizational constitution. First, create purpose statement, then its values. Assign behavior to each value. Then put it all to practice.

Make your purpose statement motivating and fascinating yet crystal on details, because it will be the mission statement for your organization to know by heart.

Learn from others’ mistakes.

Never claim that making money or only advancing your products or services as your sole purpose. Make it catchy and influencing for your customers and employees.

Take this existing purpose statement as an example: To help save trees - one person and one water bottle at a time.

Why does it work?

It is clear on the company’s basis for existing: to make water bottles while helping the environment as they save trees. Never question or doubt the significance of your purpose statement as a 2001 study can back it up when it comes to the topic of an organization’s long-term survival.

It is then time to decide on your values and behaviors. Figure out what your company’s values are and define them as specifically as possible.

Say, your two values are excellence and respect. Excellence could be approached by going the extra mile for your customers, and respect means being attentive to everybody, choosing your words carefully, or giving honest praises. Assigning behaviors can turn your values to reality.

Setting your values and behaviors should be limited to between three and five of each.

Ensure your organizational constitution is adopted by nipping resistance in the bud.

What to do when your ideas for organization constitution meet hostility? How to handle people who do not show support?

First, understanding where the resistance is coming from?

Upper managements like the managers and supervisors could be the first to show resistance because they will be the first you need to require to know these constitutions by heart.

As a show of hostility, they might not walk the walk. Or, they will actively voice it out. How to deal with it?

Do not panic.

Dealing with resistance could be a walk in the park.

Do not take the resistance personally. Take deep breaths and keep in mind that it is the change to the habits that they are being hostile to and not you personally.

Once calmed down, you can go on and explain the situation and why the specific change is necessary. Try to be as non-judgmentally as possible. Be crystal clear on behavior and not the motivation behind it. Then let the employee voice out regarding the refusal, and make him see how willing you are to understand despite your disagreement. But after doing so, make sure to be clear that the organization constitution is non-negotiable. He either make the best of the chance he gets or he must be let go.

Be sure your hiring practices reflect your organizational constitution.

It is important that every employee is in line with the company’s values.

Why?

Or else it could destroy all the hard work invested. Thus, working with the right people is vital.

No matter how great the experience and skills that comes with the package, a manager who cannot honor the organizational constitution would send wrong signal to the rest of your employees. And it will say a lot about how you personally value your constitution. Would you risk an upper management eroding the trust and engagement that you have cultivated all this time?

Why not have the best of both worlds? Hire someone with the right skills and commitment to your organization’s mission by making the candidates for the post acknowledge your organizational culture.

This information should be readily available and included in your company’s purpose, values, and expectations for behavior in every job posting, so you only attract those who share your values. Then take time and exert effort to make them exposed to your culture.

You can also establish mentorship coming from outside of the team and the manager. The employee should meet with the mentor every couple of weeks for the first few months of employment to talk about whatever the new employee wants and work-related topics.

This idea could be a productive solution to employees being scared to voice out while teaching them to abide by the organization’s purpose, values and behavior.

Final Summary

Establishing a culture that an entire organization will accept with open arms is a challenging task. But this is one worth all the investment and efforts, because organizational constitution can provide clear and organized professional outline to the organization’s purpose, values, and associated behaviors. This way, the whole company can rally as one.

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