Fortunately, most of my career I’ve worked in effective corporate cultures. If I put together the best of each, here is what made those environments effective:
• Leaders led by example on a consistent basis and were willing to roll up their sleeves, particularly during tight deadlines or challenging times.
• Employees clearly understood how what they did made a difference and how their contributions made the organization either more profitable or more effective.
• The workforce included a blend of long-term employees with a rich company, product/service and customer history, employees who had been at the company for five to seven years, and then new hires with a fresh perspective and keen sense of new technologies and techniques. That blend worked best when the mix included virtually all A-players.
• Top managers had a clear, realistic and strategic vision for how the company would grow and compete in the marketplace.
• Employees were challenged and rewarded through growth opportunities, education and training and pay increases.
• Leaders provided opportunities for the company and its employees to give back to the community. Sometimes it was through company organized volunteer projects. Other times it was by encouraging (and rewarding) employees to volunteer on their own.
• A group of employees served on an activities committee with as little top management influence as possible, to plan at least monthly team-building, networking, education and charitable activities. This grass-roots approach helped ensure that the culture was shaped and influenced by employees and not only by top management. In this way, employees owned the culture as much as the management did.