Culture-1In my past couple of blogs I’ve discussed harassment and bullying, how to recognize and prevent those behaviors, and the negative effects they can have on your business. But bullying and harassment are just two of many bad behaviors that can impact your business. Others include: unethical behavior, disrespect to customers or other employees, poor quality work, chronic lateness or absenteeism, and so on.

Establishing and communicating clear guidelines as to what is, and what is not, acceptable behavior is essential. It’s about creating a culture that promotes ethics, respect and integrity. Although we often think of company culture in terms of branding and perks, a strong company culture includes much more.

According to Harvard Business School Professor James L. Heskett, “effective culture can account for a 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors.”

So how do you create a great culture that promotes good behavior? Start with clearly defined vision and mission statements, and a set of core values. Ensure that each and every employee understands and can articulate the vision, mission and values. Be clear and consistent about expected behaviors. Integrate the vision, mission, values and expectations into your new hire orientation, employee handbook, and leadership training. Be sure that leaders at every level are aligned with the culture and are modeling expected behaviors. Recognize employees who consistently demonstrate the values in their interactions with customers, vendors, team members and other employees.

Employees who know what the standards and expectations are feel more empowered and have an easier time making decisions. This is especially important in small companies where everyone knows one another and employees feel more like family. If the standards aren’t clear and consistent and periodically reinforced, the lines can get blurred.

Communicate, and most importantly, demonstrate to employees that your focus is on doing the right thing, and not just on increasing profits. When companies lead with ethical behavior, respect and integrity, employees are more likely to follow.

If you would like more tips on creating a positive culture, please contact me.