Today’s competitive  business environment is always changing and evolving, so company culture also must also change and evolve to keep pace and stay competitive. In our recent #TalkHR webinar, “2020 Work Culture: How HR Leaders Can Direct and Design the Futures of Our Work,” NOBL’s chief research officer Paula Cizek shared useful strategies to help companies define their work culture today so that they can identify what could or should change in the years ahead. 

Here is a recap of the ideas and tips she shared.

What is work culture?

Before your company can define or evolve its culture, it’s crucial understand what work culture is, and isn’t. One person or leader cannot define an entire company’s culture. Displayed principles, mottos, and inspirational quotes can support your ideal 2020 work culture, but don’t manifest it. Neither do office perks. Ping pong tables, happy hours, and free snacks can be mistaken for company culture anchors. But in reality, they are what they are: extras. 

Simply put, work culture is how you get work done. It’s how your business runs meetings, brainstorms, and executes projects. Culture is an emergent system of shared beliefs, artifacts, behaviors, and assumptions that help individuals and groups to function within organizations. 

Culture can be described using words like inspiring, competitive, stable, fast-paced, goal-oriented, mentoring, and adventurous. There is no right or wrong company culture. So when deciding whether to change it or cultivate it from scratch, you should let your particular market lead the way. 

If your company is in need of a shift because of evolving market needs, follow the  steps below evolve your culture:

1. Identify the kind of culture your company exhibits today

Start by asking yourself what attributes best describe your company. Would you define your company as flexible or focused? Are your more internally or externally driven? These descriptors will help you pin down which of the following four categories best describes your company culture.

Relationships: Do things together

This culture can be thought of as an elephant herd. Words like personal, collaborative, and mentoring describe the workplace culture. Learning and development are highly important, and the focus is on shared goals and improving relationships.

Agility: Do things first.

Like a flock of birds, this type of culture is able to change and adapt easily and can be described with words like adventurous, adaptive, and fast-paced. Typically, small companies and startups find themselves with this kind of culture. They excel at sensing what customers need, building cross functional structures, and sharing transparent information.  

Process: Do things right

This work culture can be compared to a bee hive. Logical, stable, efficient, hierarchal, and stable are the adjectives that describe this process-driven culture. This environment is results-driven and runs on reporting, logical consistency, documentation, meeting discipline, and a clear process for making decisions.

Execution: Do things fast

An execution-based work culture can be described as a wolf pack. This culture type is typically descriptive of a performance-driven environment. Competitive, precise, goal-oriented, accountable, and productive can describe its nature. It’s common for classic sales teams to fall into this category of work culture. 

2. Determine where you want your company culture to be in the years ahead

Look at the market around you and determine what its demands and needs are. Look also at the demands and needs of your customers. Thinking about the future can help you map out where you want to be. Rebuilding or instating a company culture takes time, but a clear direction can help your company adapt to the impeding change with less discomfort. Your 2020 work culture may embody bee-like qualities—but you could be part of an elephant herd come 2023. 

3. Decide what needs to change or evolve to support your desired 2020 work culture

What can you do from within to support a culture shift? Perhaps you’ll want to bring greater flexibility to your systems and process. Or maybe your company can push to share information more transparently. Look at the attributes that defines your teams today and map out where you want to be three to five years from now. 

4. Hold an inclusive company-wide retrospective.

A retrospective can bring everyone together to discuss what’s going well, what’s not, and what can change. Keep the event blameless and objective. The process should help your team identify one issue and one possible solution to address that issue. For full details on running a successful retrospective, watch the webinar.

There is no clear winner when it comes to comparing a bee, wolf, bird, or elephant culture.  Ultimately, the work culture that accurately represents your business’ market  will be the best fit. And as your culture evolves, the team you have today may also have to change. HR solutions, like CareerArc’s outplacement services, can help both your business and employees through this time of transition. Schedule a demo to find out how CareerArc can help. 

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