Having worked for numerous CEOs and MDs in the past, I learned never to underestimate their role in shaping organisational culture; not least because people will fill in the blanks when left to their own devices.
I witnessed the immense impact that a heart-felt congratulatory message could have on employee motivation. Equally I saw how silence can demotivate just as quickly.
I’ve been infected by the passion, drive and determination to move mountains for a CEO and I’ve been thoroughly demoralised when a boss has failed to recognise the long hours we put in whilst he prioritised his personal life.
Don’t misunderstand me; I’m an advocate of balance in all things. Nevertheless, to take a holiday at the end of a critical project, when the team were burning candles at both ends to meet a tight deadline – well it causes an emotional impact on everyone involved; and the effect on culture is significant – and real.
I’m sure those Chief Executive Officers didn’t intend to shape the culture in such a negative way; and they did nevertheless.
Building the company culture is a key responsibility for CEOs and MDs. Put simply, work gets done through people and it’s through them that businesses can thrive and grow.
Company culture deeply affects how employees experience their work. A culture perceived as negative will drive away high performers or prevent you from recruiting them. Conversely, if you develop a reputation for providing a great work experience, that will give you an edge; enabling you to attract and retain the very best talent.
There are many different ways to build a culture; the key point being that the CEO or MD sets the tone. That may be hard to hear and yet it’s true. Everything you do sends a cultural message.
The board of a previous employer used to wear chinos and polo shirts when working in the office, except when they had external meetings planned; in which case they appeared suited and booted. Whilst positive in some respects, it was also a little confusing. What constituted an important meeting? How did everyone else know when to wear formal attire?
As the company boss people will watch your every move. Who you talk to will indicate who is and isn’t important. How you handle mistakes will dictate whether people feel they can take risks. Who and what you tolerate versus whom and what you reward will speak volumes about what you value; and so on. All this shapes the culture in a powerful way.
So, if you are privileged to be at the helm of the organisation; then the responsibility to create a healthy company culture falls to you. Your people depend on it and the sustainable success of the business rests with them.
This week’s link is for CEOs & MDs; you know who you are!