When you start a business you make decisions about a myriad of things. Everything from drafting your business plan to organizing daily operations reflects your character, personality, and leadership style. You also set the tone for your office.
The aim is to create a company culture that governs the quality of the relationships, attitudes, and values that impact your employees and customers.
Never underestimate the power of your company culture. A Core Beliefs and Culture survey by Deloitte revealed that more than 80 percent of executives and employees believe that having an engaged, motivated workforce contributes to the success of their company.
1. Practice what you preach
As a business owner, you must accept responsibility for setting the proper tone for your company culture. Regardless of the type of business you operate, find ways to build a workplace culture that rewards enthusiasm and a solid work ethic.
You can begin by making your team feel safe, comfortable and valued. When you anticipate and address the needs of your team, and anticipate issues that might affect them, you can help promote an atmosphere that encourages teamwork.
Developing a culture of engagement might sound like an easy task to accomplish, but it takes a conscious effort on your part. Deliberately implement and adhere to policies and values that will lead to a healthy culture of engagement. When you practice what you preach, your employees will follow your lead.
You get to decide whether to create a culture that recognizes and appreciates teamwork and good work habits or an atmosphere of arrogance, disrespect, and bitter rivalry. Pay attention to your beliefs and how your employees perceive you because you will set the standard for the culture of your company.
2. Set realistic expectations
Business owners often focus their efforts on defining business strategies rather than establishing and communicating core values that determine how you want to execute those plans. To avoid that mistake, schedule periodic meetings to share your vision for the company and how you want them to reach their full potential.
Low expectations are counterproductive, leading to confusion among employees. On the other hand, unrealistically high expectations will fail to motivate anyone because they seem unattainable. The expectations you set for your team should encourage everyone to work together to achieve common goals and share the rewards of success.
3. Provide feedback and recognition
When your team knows what you expect from them, take the next step by showing them how to work together within those guidelines. Through frequent, open dialogue, you can encourage the free exchange of ideas that can lead to improvements in productivity, efficiency, and customer service. Make sure you involve everyone, even employees who seem timid or shy, so everyone can enjoy the feeling of contributing to the success of their company.
When an employee or group performs well, acknowledge their success. When you make the effort to express your appreciation, you set the stage for ongoing achievements and improvements. When mistakes happen, find ways to improve your internal processes rather than blaming your people. Defuse stressful situations by recognizing errors as opportunities for improvement.
4. Empower employees
Resist the temptation to micromanage your team. Instead, give employees the power to make decisions and take the initiative to serve customers, improve workflows, and find solutions. When you give your team members autonomy on the job, they will respond with a sense of responsibility, pride, and a higher level of engagement. That inner desire and drive will do more to motivate your team than any external reward.
As the culture of your company develops, maintain an ongoing effort to show respect for your team and appreciation for their efforts. Encourage their professional growth by helping them keep up with the latest trends in project management, as it equally reflects all levels of a business. More importantly, never hold your team accountable for things beyond their control.
5. Understand employee motivation
Part of creating a company culture of engagement requires understanding what motivates your employees. As a business owner, you might think that only money will drive employee engagement.
Surveys contradict that idea, showing that appreciation, communication, recognition, and opportunities for advancement motivate employees to become loyal, productive team members. Use this knowledge to create a work environment where your employees are driven by a sense of purpose to realize their full potential.
Establishing a company culture that promotes employee engagement requires work and dedication on your part. This effort will take time, so start small and build upon it. The slow process will produce long lasting, positive outcomes that will make your business profitable and successful.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the recent trends in the business world. She spends her free time trying out new recipes or reading Scandinavian crime novels. Connect with @LisaBMichaels on Twitter.