Employee Development, Company Culture

C an you believe 2016 is already upon us? The beginning of a new year is a fantastic time to infuse your company culture with a new zest. Here are 5 ways to enhance your company culture in 2016.

1. Align Your Company’s Core Competencies

Corporate strategy guru CK Prahalad once said that your company’s core competencies stemmed from the answers to three questions: What provides access to a wide variety of customers? What significantly enhances their experiences? What can we do that is difficult to imitate by competitors?

These questions can also be applied to fostering a distinct company culture in 2016: What can I do to appeal to a wide variety of my employees? What significantly enhances their experiences at work? What can we do that is difficult to imitate by competitors?

In this ultra-competitive environment for talent, the third question is especially important to focus on. Even if you have the closest-knit office team, competition for talent is very real. Besides employee retention, talent competition also plays a large role in whether your current employees are motivated to recommend job openings to their personal networks, which can mean the difference between getting a pool of good applicants and a pool of great applicants.

2. Celebrate Small Wins…

I recently attended a startup panel in Detroit, where a bootstrapping entrepreneur told me that the number one way he keeps his team working in sync is to celebrate small wins. Building a business is a monumental task, and sometimes the end goal can seem much too far away to be a motivating factor.

In his psychology paper Small Wins, University of Michigan psychologist Karl Weick emphasizes the psychological importance of breaking up large nebulous goals into small, winnable tasks. Small wins let employees know that their efforts are making progress towards a larger goal and promote rational thinking about how to proceed with the next step.

The psychological effect of celebrating small wins is not to be underestimated. Remember - growing a good company culture is a marathon, not a sprint.

Searching for Vision

3. …But Keep People In-Step with Your Long-Term Vision!

On the other hand, it’s much too easy to fall into the rut of “I return emails, and somehow the company functions.” When employees spend too much time working exclusively within their role, it can be easy to forget about the rest of the company. This tunnel-vision is called “Silo Mentality”, and can be poisonous to employee engagement. This year, let employees get involved in projects outside their traditional job description.

Encourage cross-silo collaboration! And don’t worry, having a broader view of the company will help employees be even more engaged and productive with the tasks they are assigned to.

4. Give People a Good Reputation to Live Up To

An oldie but a goodie, this one comes from management wizard Dale Carnegie. Carnegie believed that people like to live up to their reputations. Take the example of two employees who arrive late to work on a Monday:

The first employee is pulled aside, and his manager says “Hey you! You’re always late! Why did I hire someone who can never make it to work on time!”

The second employee is pulled aside, and his manager says “Hey, just wanted to let you know that I know you’re not someone who usually arrives late. If something’s wrong, feel free to let me know. If not, don’t worry about being late today, just make sure you’re back to your usual self tomorrow.”

Which employee do you think will arrive on time more days over the next year? Which employee will wake up tomorrow saying “I’m not a late person, so I’d better get going!” If you write off someone’s usefulness before giving them a chance, you risk having them never try to be truly useful to your company.


5. Remember that Employees Motivate Each Other

The greatest effect on your company culture will be something you may never directly measure. In a great company culture, employees motivate each other, going above and beyond the management’s actions to improve company culture.

While hearing encouragement from a CEO or boss can be great for allaying fears about job security and underperforming, hearing motivation from co-workers can really give a team the feeling that “we’re all in, we’re all working for a common cause.”

Tagged: Employee Development, Company Culture

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(Wolverinus Carolinium) is a 2014 Venture for America Fellow and former Dale Carnegie Training GA for Effective Speaking and Human Relations. Proud Carolina Citizen, Detroit Denizen, and Michigan Man.