Apr 25, 2014
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The Eight C’s Of Corporate Culture

Your business needs to be fun, basically. If not, how do you expect to retain any employees? If you don’t have any employees, how do you expect work to get done? If no work gets done, how do you expect to make any money? If you don’t make any money…. How do you expect to have your business?

You can’t. You won’t. You’re done. It’s over. It’s like a house of cards where one falls and the rest topple over. The only thing holding that house of cards up is something called the corporate culture. That’s how your employees stay in the home. The culture is there. Without any sense of culture or identity to your business, you’ll simply staff temps till the day you or your business (or both) dies. That’s a sad outlook on corporate life.

We’re going to change that around, though, with these eight C’s. They’re concepts (and, yet, that’s another “C” you have to keep a close eye on), really. Study these and make them your own. Everyone will be different, though. It depends on how you want your business to be. Don’t simply make it your business, though; make it everyone’s, starting with….

The Camaraderie

The first “C”. In many ways, it’s probably the most important one. Undoubtedly, your business needs to have a sense of teamwork. You’re a family, working together. You don’t emphasize that in your company, and your employees won’t have any sense of belonging.

Sure, I like the idea of being away from “home” and going to “work,” but in all honesty, “work” shouldn’t be “dull,” which is far from what “home” is. You get away from the craziness of home, but that craziness is definitely not dull. Once you’re there in the office and you’re twiddling your thumbs, falling asleep at the desk, you’re going to be wishing you’re back at home with all that craziness just get some excitement in your life.

Make your office fun. Hold office basketball or baseball games. Make it a team environment. Manage contests between departments. Emphasize friendly competition. Make it more than just “work.”

The Celebration

Listen up: we have a whole year full of what…. celebrations. We understand that you’re in an office complex or building, and it does from time to time resemble something like a fish bowl. Just because it seems like one doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be one.

it’s important to have birthday parties, Valentine’s Day parties, Christmas parties, anniversary parties, new business acquisition parties, employee recognition parties — all sorts of parties! Get creative if you like. This follows through with the camaraderie, too, in that you’re constantly involving your workforce in the seasonable celebration of just about anything, including life.

To sweeten the deal even more, though, you can run specific contests with celebrations for everyone by handing out prizes to those who participate. It’s not necessarily about who wins (as sometimes camaraderie can be all about), but about who’s involved. Involve everyone in your office when it comes to celebration.

The Community

How else are you making your money? It’s not like your clients and customers are coming out of the woodwork or osmosis. They’re coming out of the only place they can come out of — the outside of your building. That’s where the community exists.

Get involved there as well. Think of it as a way to “give back” to those who do business with you, making you the money to thrive. Of course, certain nonprofits and agendas will cost some of the revenue of your business, but in the end it’s all worth it. Why?

Your department, your division, your company, your team — they’re involved in something bigger than the paycheck. There’s nothing more valuable than that. Before you know it, you end up having employees that aren’t burning themselves out just to get that paycheck. They’re taking pride in simply coming to work. That’s all.

The Communication

I hate cubicles. I think they’re creations of darkness, really. I’m a firm believer that such barriers exist in Hell, or Hades, or whatever underworld you’re aware of. Whatever the case may be, maybe you require such walls to be built, but never dissolve the concept of communication between your associates and employees.

They have a right to speak. Begin a forum. You can even start small and open up a “suggestion box.” Questions, questions, questions — everyone has a right to ask one. Everyone also has a right to get an answer. That’s key to a good corporate culture.

If you’ve got employees who won’t ask any questions — or even worse, will ask questions but never get any answers — be prepared for those employees to leave you high and dry. Communication is key.

The Caring

Your employees aren’t just your little terminators of Skynet doing your financial bidding, so to speak. It’s funny to think of them that way, but on all honesty, they’re simply this: human. Treat them as such.

That then means you must care about them as people beyond that of your company. Get to know them. Does your accountant have a spouse? What…. You don’t know? Find out! How can you not know if the person handling your own payroll doesn’t even have a wife or husband?

Understand, too, that when terrible things happen — such as deaths or accidents — or great things occur — such as births or weddings — it’s your fundamental duty to know about it and make it known that you care. A CEO who cares is a CEO who succeeds in business.

The Commitment to Learning

Continuous improvement, employee advancement, continual training — internal recruiting, promotions, raises and praises — we never expected the corporate culture to be anything like middle school, but when you think about it, it’s so much like it!

In business, you’re constantly learning. Praise that. Encourage that. Enforce that. Your employees need to stay motivated while doing their jobs. If they feel their jobs have no challenge at all, you’ll have some pretty bored people on staff.

The key to keeping them motivated is to keep them wanting to learn more about what they can do more for your business. Set up training centers. Open up new avenues for revenue generation. This falls in line with one of a corporation’s fundamental goals: business growth. If your business grows, be sure to allow your employees to grow as well.

The Consistency

Talk this out with your business lawyer as well, because for sure in the courtroom there’s consistency! If there’s that in one of the most hallowed halls of the judicial system, why not by the water cooler of your business as well?

This means if you see your employees always congregating by that water cooler at 3:36 PM on a Friday afternoon, every week, you can safely say you have a healthy corporate culture. Don’t mess with it. Employees like that consistency. They like that they can rely on a routine they, themselves, have created.

You can be creative here as well — set up specific traditions, if you like. They can be goofy. They can be quirky. They can tie in to your general mission statement or business or whatever it is you sell. Overall, this keeps the employees motivated to keep coming in every day, because every next day gets them closer to the next tradition they get to participate in.

The Connection

Last but not least, this holds hands dearly with the fifth “C” in the list — you do have to care about your employees, but what about you? Don’t you want someone to care about you?

Of course, you can’t expect anyone to care about you just because. You need to give people reasons to care. Probably the biggest mistake a CEO can make in a company is to be so far removed from the workforce to the point that no one ever knows even your name.

You’re a stodgy, prudish, even ugly person with a superiority complex. Everyone hates you. Sure, you sign the paychecks, but these employees won’t do anything for morale, advancement or business growth. They just want their ‘money’ so they can go home. However, if you personally connect with every employee on staff, you’re more than just a CEO. You’re a person, too. When you get your workforce to know who you are, they not only want to work for the business and paycheck — they want to work for you.

Do You Get the Concept?

So this is the ninth “C”, only you don’t need to really observe it. That’s why there are only eight here. However, you need to make sure you’re taking a good look at these C’s, applying them to your own business identity.

It’s not enough to just read about this. You might be done reading the article, but the rest will be up to you. Tomorrow’s a new day. Your business awaits. Take what you’ve learned and make it even better.

Matt Faustman is the CEO at UpCounsel. You can follow his business insights on Twitter at @upcounsel.

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