It’s been almost two and a half years since we raised the topic of company culture. At that time, COVID-19 dominated the news and was probably the most troublesome global industrial issue facing all business leaders including those of us in the graphics arts industry. How many of us had time to think about culture when so much of daily life was torn asunder?

Which is why, with things returning somewhat close to pre-COVID conditions, we thought it was time to revisit culture. We think our image conveys most of what culture is about. It’s missing industry specific elements such as presses, the shop floor, pre-press people and equipment, but the camaraderie, proximity, and contact convey the main message: culture is a key factor in creating a positive, vibrant atmosphere that everyone – suppliers, customers, and employees – can see and feel.

We didn’t define culture in our earlier article. Instead, we told you where to find it in one of our favourite resources, Organizations: Behaviour, Structure, Processes. Feel free to immerse yourself into its academic rigor and practical details for making it work for you. For those who prefer a Coles Notes version, here’s the definition: culture involves assumptions, adaptations, perceptions, and learning. When was the last time you and your senior team looked at these four aspects of culture? When did you ever have time to look at anything besides the cold, hard facts? But the cold hard facts of high-performing organizations are a result of working on such intangibles as culture.

Because culture involves so many abstract and personal elements, it’s easy to understand why it is given little attention. We think that’s a shame and ask you to consider the following:

Culture is the Glue that Binds Employees to an Organization

Having problems with turnover or morale? Maybe culture is part of the problem. We repeat one of our fundamental principles – employee involvement is critical to building a high-performance organization. Ask your employees why they come to work everyday and what makes your company unique. Their answers can be quite revealing. Maybe you need to look at what makes them stick around – or not. A cultural survey need not involve asking employees more than 10 questions.

Look at your Hardware and Software

Your company values and principles are cultural elements we emphasize but the workplace itself is also an expression of culture. The physical layout, furnishings, and equipment say a lot about the care given to environment and atmosphere. Looking modern, organized, clean, open, and comfortable can make everything in your workplace feel inviting. You want people to come on in. Have an open house and invite employees to bring family and friends to tour your facility. Low participation will tell you there is more to do.

Understand Cohesion

An organization with a cohesive culture generally has four pillars:

  1. A history that everyone shares with others because it reflects the company’s values and commitment to its members.
  2. Everyone knows what’s expected and is committed to deliver (In higher-performing organizations, they exceed expectations!).
  3. All employees feel like they belong in a group and work together effectively.
  4. Everyone in the organization has been encouraged to, and in fact, do work well interpersonally and across the different groups.

Work on the Bridges

When you hear employees using words like “they” instead of “we” and “us” and “our” inside the company chances are you have cultural walls between individuals and departments. Participative decision-making and cross departmental meetings, such as learning at lunch sessions, encourage employees to build their own bridges with others and feel free to contact them when issues arise.

Review your Employee Rewards, Recognition, and Development Practices

Group bonuses and other incentives foster loyalty and commitment. So do comprehensive employee orientation and development programs. When employees know they are cared for, believe they are a valued part of the company, encouraged to learn and grow, and recognized on a regular basis, then chances are you have a high-performance culture.

Want to hear more? Contact us!

By Gary Forget