Businesses of every size value high performing employees.
Savvy businesses spend a lot of time thinking about what characteristics their company culture should exhibit.
The ultimate goal is to hire the most talented employees, who are self-starters, and take ownership of their work and any problems they encounter.
But hiring is not a perfect process, and employee on-boarding is anemic or non-existent in some workplaces.
How can businesses bridge the gap between what they want from their employees and what they receive?
I believe that setting clear expectations for job performance is an essential step. Creating an environment of support and open communication are also critical to employee success.
Are expectations clear?
There are many work places where employees are expected to “just know” what to do. This does not set them up for success.
When new employees are hired, do you have an on-boarding process in place? Do you explain what is expected of employees and what resources you provide for them to do their work?
Are expectations surrounding behavior, predictable performance, or dress code clearly defined?
Will your employees be judged against criteria that was never clearly explained to them?
Having clearly defined standards is one part of establishing a tangible work culture. Communication is another crucial part.
Honesty, Transparency, and Communication
Communication may be the most underrated component of work culture. Corporations work very hard at this aspect, but what about small or mid sized businesses?
It is very easy to neglect proper communication, especially if time is a limited resource, and the work at hand seems overwhelming.
But without clear and honest communication, you are setting your team up for failure. And when they fail because of poor communication, they won’t even know why.
Some workplaces have a “just get it done” mentality. But when a successful work day is not clearly defined, we unwittingly create a moving target for our staff. When we keep shifting our work performance criteria, eventually employee morale will decrease.
When we set clear expectations, and give employees the resources they need to do their job, only then can we truthfully claim we are creating a culture where performance is evaluated fairly.
Communication is often tough for smaller teams who add new members. Small teams may have come to rely on intuition or knowing each other’s thought patterns.
A new hire doesn’t know what you’re thinking at all times, nor should they be expected to.
Small team leaders may have to practice communicating in greater detail when on boarding new employees, or risk eroding team morale. Your new team members can’t read your mind, and shouldn’t have to.
Good communication builds teams, lack of communication destroys them.
The Role Of The Management Team
Another consideration is having the right people on your leadership team. Are they supporting your employees and making sure they have everything they need to do their job?
The larger a company grows, the more important it is to have processes in place to make sure the work is getting done.
Having clearly defined roles, like who is going to do what, makes it much easier for everyone.
Your management or leadership team needs to be part of this effort as well. It is easy for the management team to inadvertently put obstacles in the way. Management should be there to fully support the staff, and make sure they have everything they need to get their jobs done.
Foster Communication, Not Adversity
Having a culture where open communication is possible allows employees to talk to management without fear of reprisal or backlash.
There should never be an Us vs. Them mentality in your workplace — or you’ve already lost.
Teams are built, successful teams are built when everyone is working toward a common goal, and everyone has trust of one another.
When trust is eroded, work becomes an internal battle among team factions. You do not want this.
Build Culture Through Communication And Trust
Everything that encompasses work culture and performance boils down to communication and trust. When these factors are missing, a team becomes divided and splintered.
Make sure you are communicating what you expect from employees and how you will support them in their job. This should begin long before day one. How else will you attract top talent?
Clearly define what it is your company does, who you do it for, and most importantly, why you do it. Defining your purpose makes you examine your internal practices through the same lens.
Make people feel safe at work, and foster a culture of communication, not fear or bitterness. Employees that feel like they can voice questions and concerns freely are more likely to do good work for you.
When employees have to guess at what you expect from them or don’t know how they will be evaluated, it makes them wary and uncertain. No one can do their best work if they feel intimidated, disrespected, or backbitten.
Let’s all work to create a culture of communication and trust, not one of divisiveness and adversity.