A thriving company culture is the engine of any organization, powering business growth and driving new opportunities. Just like an engine, workplace culture needs to be properly maintained. In other words, don’t wait for a problem to occur before taking action.
Workplace culture isn’t something that can be purchased. It has to be cultivated. Your people – your team members – are the most important part of your organization.
When employees feel valued, have opportunities to develop their skills and have fun, they are motivated to do great work and, more importantly, become your best ambassadors. Plus, retaining good employees is for more efficient than dealing with “the churn” of constantly having to hire new people.
It’s a philosophy we put into practice every day. Here are a few examples of how we develop and maintain culture within our workplace.
Connect and Engage
Workplace leaders need to be in the driver’s seat and pay attention to their team. Give direction. Set expectations. Develop a process. Provide people with structure but never lose sight of the need to create connections with your team members.
Commit to connecting with team members at all levels every day. No one should be left out of the equation. There can’t be one culture for leadership and a separate one for “rank and file” employees. It must be inclusive.
At our dealership, we engage with every employee, from technicians to managers. Because we spend time with our people, we can identify when an employee is struggling outside of work or having a bad day. We’re attuned to their needs, which helps us decide when to back off and when to intervene.
Invest and Reward
Invest time and resources, and reward employees for the value they bring to your organization. People are more likely to work through problems and stick around during harder business times when their contribution is acknowledged.
Not all rewards have to be monetary. Sometimes a simple thank you or a compliment is all that’s needed.
Our dealership created the “Who We Are” Award, presented at year’s end to employees who exemplify our company values. We also recognize top sales and service associates each month at internal meetings and offer perks like a designated parking space.
People also want to work in an environment where they can grow and advance. One of our guiding principles is based on the concept: “Be a student. Be a teacher. Be a leader.” To that end, we do a lot of internal mentoring, coaching, and training and always look to promote from within first. The expectation is that employees will pay it forward, creating a virtuous cycle.
Empower and Trust
The benefits of trusting and empowering employees far outweigh the risks. Give employees the opportunity to resolve conflicts and solve problems. Encourage them to develop collaborations. These face-to-face interactions with co-workers are important to productivity and employee satisfaction.
Don’t forget the FUN
It’s okay to have fun in the workplace. In fact, it’s a great way for employees, managers and leaders to bond! People want work to be productive, worthwhile and fun. When employees enjoy what they do, they perform better and customers take notice.
Think about ways to add fun into the workplace that align with your organization’s mission and values. For instance, we host an annual chili cook-off luncheon where employees compete for the best chili (and cash prizes!). We also host an annual pine box derby race, where employees build and personalize a car. It’s a family function that includes healthy competition and good food, and provides another opportunity for employees to bond across departments.
Authenticity is Key
A great workplace culture has to “come from the heart” of its leaders. Authenticity is key! If your intention is self-serving or superficial, then you shouldn’t do it at all.
Mike Messina is the general manager of Larry H. Miller Dodge Ram Avondale, which has been recognized as a “Top Companies to Work for in Arizona” by the Arizona Republic for four consecutive years.