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How to improve organizational culture? Isn't it something we all keep looking for irrespective of realizing our mistakes that can sabotage the organizational culture and erode it from within?

Organizational culture is a big thing many employers pay close attention to. It isn't just about providing an inspiring place for employees to work but also about motivating them and giving them a sense of community.

If you want to sustain a business long-term, consider making a positive workplace environment that reflects your values and culture.

Building and regularly improving organizational culture can help increase output and reduce employee turnover rates. However, poor company culture can reduce productivity and business performance if not appropriately shaped.

While many organizations put great effort into developing effective organizational cultures, sustaining them as the company grows is crucial.

For example, new employees with conflicting values and personalities may create a toxic team culture, sabotaging team productivity and performance.

Organizational Culture: Definition

Organizational culture refers to team members' shared beliefs, values, and behaviours. It's how people within a company think, view, and behave towards one another.

Simply put, organizational culture includes characteristics that help employees understand appropriate behaviour. Creating a positive workplace culture helps improve work and the ability of your people to adapt to change.

The Importance of a Strong Organizational Culture

An influential organizational culture should meet several criteria. It must encourage employees to take the initiative, accept responsibility for their decisions, and make the right choices when facing complex problems. These are critical factors that empower employees to respond positively to change.

If some of your employees don't possess these characteristics, it's hard to maintain a positive culture within a company. Even though most people agree that individual skills are required to succeed, bad habits can negatively affect team morale.

Here are a few benefits of having a good organizational culture and how it affects team members and the business.

1. Encourage team members to be resilient to changes.

When a company culture is working well, it can be an essential source of encouragement and resilience in the face of adversity.

When employees don't have to overcome challenging situations on their own, they feel less stressed and better equipped to handle future obstacles.

2. Build creativity

Creativity is one of the most important skills that people must possess in today's economy. Good company culture helps encourage creative thinking within teams and helps them become more innovative.

3. Improve productivity and the quality of work

Employee morale is at an all-time low in today's business world. Workers are often dissatisfied because they don't see how their work benefits the company or society.

Company culture provides the needed context for everything that happens within groups and teams, which results in greater productivity and lower turnover rates.

4. Improve corporate branding

A positive culture helps create goodwill among customers. When employees understand their purpose, it creates a sense of pride that makes them more willing to engage with clients about business matters outside of their direct responsibilities.

5. Increase employee retention

Younger generations are increasingly less interested in staying at one job for a long time than previous generations were. The reason is the perception that job security is no longer a given, and there are more interesting and exciting things to do than spend decades at the same place.

If you can create a positive environment for your employees, they will be more likely to stay with you, which results in lower recruiting costs down the line.

5 Common Mistakes that Sabotage Organizational Culture

There are a few things that clog down your business. Bad organizational culture is one of the greatest causes that employees can't deliver good work. Following are some common mistakes that hinder you from becoming a top employer:

1. Quick hires and fires

One of the most common mistakes that sabotage organizational culture is not evaluating candidates before hiring them. New staff can destroy the culture if they aren't the right fit for the organization.

This could result in a quick hire and fire, leading to bad publicity. Unfortunately, this happens all too often in companies today.

If you are part of the human resources team, take sufficient time to evaluate candidates and pay attention to the new employee onboarding session. It helps new hires experience company culture during the entire process, from hiring to onboarding.

2. Lack of communication

Lack of communication also leads to weak organizational culture. Employees are not well-informed about the company's goals, strategies, or policies.

The fact that companies hired them in the first place means they're capable of helping the company achieve its goals. If they don't know these goals, they can't do much except sit back and twiddle their thumbs while waiting for things to happen.

3. Negative reinforcement

If you consider organizational culture a machine that needs constant maintenance, rewards are one of its oiling gears.

Positive reinforcement effectively maintains this aspect of organizational culture by confirming good behaviour within the organization—increasing the chances of getting more positive responses from your employees in the future.

4. Micromanagement

A good manager will let his employees do their jobs and motivate them to see that they are doing their job in the best way possible. What's the point of working with a team if you don't value their ideas and criticism?

You should always hire someone for a specific task and monitor it, so the chances of mistakes are few. However, you need to understand that you cannot monitor everything. Some things have to be left alone for people to prove themselves. Otherwise, micromanagement will destroy them from within.

Organizational culture thrives when managers focus on harmony within teams rather than looking into everything in too much detail.

5. Lack of clear expectations

Setting the right expectations is crucial for every company. Your employees need clear instructions on what they should do and by what date they should complete their work.

If you don't provide them with all the necessary information, they might make mistakes but not because they are incapable of doing what the company hired them for.

How to Improve Organizational Culture Effectively?

Building a strong organizational culture is important but sustaining it is even more crucial. Here are the 10 effective ways to improve organizational culture:

1. Build effective communication within your company

Providing open communication means that each team member should feel comfortable sharing their opinions, discussing a problem, or asking a question. Make sure to keep a two-way communication with your employees as it helps prevent misunderstandings.

2. Be transparent

Organizational issues can damage businesses. So, there must be open communication between management and staff. Transparency will create trust, which improves engagement and productivity within the company.

When workers feel comfortable discussing issues with management, it builds rapport, increasing sales, market shares, and customer satisfaction. Providing information about your company goals and strategies can also guide employees in the right direction.

When you are transparent with employees, you can gain their trust and have a cordial and healthy relationship with them. Creating a culture of transparency can also improve employee retention.

3. Improve employee recruitment

Employees are your building blocks. You can achieve success only if you have efficient and effective employees at every level of the organization.

Orientation programs provide recruits with a clear understanding of company policies, infrastructure, transparency in communication, and more.

Try to ensure that new hires understand your culture right from their first day. This will help them adapt quickly and reduce turnover rates.

4. Create a conducive work environment

A well-informed employee is a key to organizational success. However, it depends on how well they understand their job responsibilities and what's happening around them in the company.

Creating an environment where employees feel comfortable asking questions will initiate conversations between managers and workers, which helps set clear expectations for daily tasks and assignments.

5. Provide regular feedback

Feedback is an essential part of any job. Regular feedback will help employees know what they need to improve and also helps managers understand how well their team is doing.

Managers should schedule feedback sessions at least once a month or bi-weekly, depending on the project. Using task management apps helps employees and managers keep track of current and upcoming projects while effectively sending feedback to each team member.

6. Offer rewards and recognition

Employee recognition is crucial for a business that strives for longevity. When employees feel recognized, they will most likely stay with a company rather than seek new opportunities.

What's more, recognizing employees' talent and their work can significantly reduce turnover rates.

A study found from SHRM that companies with strategic recognition reported a mean employee turnover rate of 23.4% lower than retention at companies without any recognition program. 

Therefore, you should include rewards and recognition programs to retain employees long-term.

7. Understand employee wellbeing and social needs

When creating a culture within the organization, organizations need to consider their employees' needs. This means taking care of their physical and emotional needs, such as healthy meals at work, flexible work arrangements, and time off on certain days during the week.

Putting your employees first will increase competitiveness in creating new product ideas, which ultimately helps them grow their careers and makes them happier workers.

8. Measure culture with data & feedback

Measuring an organization's culture can be done by holding various employee surveys. Usually, third-party companies will ask managers and employees questions.

For example, how they feel about certain aspects of workplace life, such as trust, communication, or how often they are praised for a great job.

Creating a solid organizational culture starts with ensuring that your company's management understands that worker satisfaction strongly affects productivity in the workplace.

9. Embrace cultures with diversity and inclusivity

Having a diverse staff in an organization is essential for the overall success of the company. It provides different perspectives on approaching specific issues and offers fresh ideas that ultimately improve work hence improving organizational culture.

Tolerance, open-mindedness, and understanding are all qualities that companies should embrace about diversity.

10. Encourage collaboration between employees.

When employees collaborate, they can bounce ideas off of each other, which gives them a broader knowledge base and leads to the development of new ideas that will ultimately benefit the company.

Make sure to provide a mentorship program for your employees. The program is beneficial because it brings together two employees with different strengths and weaknesses to overcome certain obstacles together.

In this way, both employees learn from each other, promoting growth within the organization and personal growth for each person involved.

Closing thoughts

People tend to ignore that organizational culture is about creating an environment that helps everyone thrive. As organizational culture plays an essential role in one's productivity and performance, you must understand whether the culture meets your company's needs and helps achieve its goals.

Engaging with new hires and introducing them to company culture from the start is also essential. Problems such as miscommunication can severely damage productivity and the work culture.

If left unchecked, they can cause high turnover rates as employees don't feel they fit with the culture. This article should help you find what mistakes sabotage your company culture and how you can improve it to keep your business sustained in the long run.

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Andre Oentoro

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This article is written by Andre Oentoro. He is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, sales, and get positive ROI.