If you neglect the house plants they will wither

In last week’s blog, I said a business’s culture was like a houseplant – and if you neglect it, one day you will turn around to find it withered and lifeless. Since that post, I’ve had a number of responses asking me to elaborate. So here goes…

Culture is great when you’re small – it’s fun, it’s easy and it’s incredibly visible with a small team, so you can keep a close eye on it. However, as you rapidly grow your culture needs to adapt to survive. I’m not talking about fundamental changes, or altering the key values of your enterprise – these should remain the same. Just as your processes and internal communications develop and mutate as you grow, so does your culture and most importantly, how you communicate it and who’s in charge of it. I wrote last year that as a business owner there was only one person in charge of the culture and that was you, but as you grow what happens when you get too busy? And I don’t mean too busy to care or to be involved ( that would be disastrous) but too busy to be driving it daily throughout the organisation. While you can and should be the figurehead of the culture, how do you stay on top of the details?

The first key is to have someone wholly responsible for it. I remember visiting a large organisation a few years ago, with over 2,000 employees and being amazed at meeting their ‘Best places to work’ officer and her entire ‘Best places to work for’ team - here was somewhere that took culture seriously! Only large organisations can afford an entire team solely focused on this but with all the online tools, social media and software available these days, any size organisation has no excuse for not having a well-developed cultural program and a chief cultural officer, even if it’s part of their existing role. 

At its heart, a company’s culture should enable your team to enjoy coming to work, to be challenged at work and have the ability to develop their capabilities and career, to be recognised for the work that they do and to feel they have the right to contribute, to feel empowered and to most importantly have fun. The greater/ better the culture, the more your team will enjoy doing their work and the more they enjoy it, the better your company/ team and product will become.

The story of Zappos, Delivering Happiness’ by Tony Hsieh is a great read and there are many others along similar veins, but the key questions you need to ask yourself regarding your team, remain the same:
1. Do they have fun, simple values they aspire to?
2. Do these values underpin all that you do?
3. Is the exhibition of these values celebrated and rewarded in a regular, fun way?
4. Do they all have the opportunity to communicate when they feel these values are not being followed/ can be improved on?
5. Are there open and direct lines of communication, as well as confidential channels they all feel comfortable with?
6. Are the values constantly and continuously communicated?

At RFi Group we have monthly awards, weekly nominations and call outs, employee engagement teams, birthday’s off, Friday drinks, charitable volunteering with your colleagues, a couple of sports teams, trivia nights... the list goes on. All of this initiative - as well as being a lot of fun - are designed to ensure the answers to the above questions are all a resounding “yes!” and to ensure that they are constantly checked, monitored and evaluated. If your team culture is always being watched, developed, celebrated and enhanced, then - just like a houseplant that is tendered, watered and fed - it will grow and flourish. If your culture is growing and flourishing then so will your team and your business.

If you like this blog, find it useful, or think it’s interesting, please share it and if you have any questions at all please feel free to comment – I am always open to a conversation.

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