Most people would agree that their world feels as though it has recently flipped upside-down! In this brand new world of social distancing, we’re scrambling to figure out how to be productive in an unplanned work from home environment—and also remain engaged.
Even in a strong business climate (like we had just weeks ago), company culture and employee engagement are vital to the success of an organization. They have a direct impact on revenue, employee turnover, and key account retention.
During these uncertain times, however, when most of us are forced to work in dramatically different ways than we normally would, it is paramount!
What is Company Culture?
Think of your company culture as the personality of your organization. What it’s like to work there. It’s the shared beliefs, values, attitudes, standards, and behaviors of your people, and it changes (just a bit) with every hire you make.
Every company has a culture—whether you realize it or not. Even if you do nothing, culture happens, and a free-wheeling, untamed company culture may do more harm than good. Organizations that have a thriving culture are those that are intentional about creating and driving it rather than letting fate take the wheel.
Here is an example of how one person recently described their company culture:
- We value transparency. We’re a curious group, and we want to know what is going on. The good thing is our leaders are really open, so we learn about important information from them rather than the grapevine.
- We’re a pretty open bunch. Everyone seems pretty comfortable sharing personal information with each other in the break room or during lunch.
- Even though it’s not written in our employee handbook, people work long hours here. It’s sort of frowned upon to come in late, take a long lunch, or leave early. We’re a pretty intense group!
- Most people here are highly collaborative, and we often encourage group collaboration instead of working alone.
- We do a lot of celebrating—birthdays, anniversaries, work successes, things like that.
Think about your own company culture for a moment. First, how would your people have described your company a couple of months ago? And how would they describe it today?
Tools That Support Company Culture
To successfully navigate the world we’re living in now, it’s critical to understand the single most important thing that will determine whether a company comes through this with a strong culture intact.
Those organizations that will thrive are the ones that really, truly, care about their people—and show it. Every day.
The User Guide
We recommend that you show your people how much you care about them and, at the same time, help each employee perform at their very best right now by introducing the concept of a User Guide.
At The Center for Sales Strategy, we have a shared space on our intranet that houses all of our employee User Guides. That way, before we collaborate with someone, we can take a few minutes to get a better feel for how that person tends to work best. When we are all working remotely, this improves communication and facilitates more effective collaboration between people.
Every User Guide will be very different because it should reflect the unique nature of the individual who built it both in content and style. But they should all tackle the same basic information.
Questions to Ask When Building a User Guide
- How would you describe your workstyle?
- What is the best way for people to communicate with you?
- What do you value the most in people you work with?
- How can people help you be at your very best?
- What do people sometimes misunderstand about you?
- What will you not tolerate in others?
Your User Guide gives you a platform to be open and honest about what you like, want, or need, share things about yourself that you want others to hear, and even self-reflect on how you function at your best. As an added benefit during times of stress, most people find the process of building a User Guide very therapeutic - which is especially valuable right now.
Integrating User Guides into Your Operation
Once all of your User Guides are built, don’t let them gather dust. Actively seek ways to integrate them into your operations and keep them alive.
For example, when we hire a new employee, we have a team meeting to get to know them and introduce ourselves. Each person will share one thing from their User Guides that they want to make sure the new hire knows about us.
Working in our talent department, I have seen great examples of people sharing their User Guides with their clients and asking their clients to build and share their own User Guide back, so they are sure to help them be at their best.
One manager we work with created a quiz to see how well her employees knew each other. And recently, I heard about families sharing their User Guides at home to make quarantined life a little easier!
As a final note, your User Guide should be a living document. We will all mature, gain new experiences, and grow and develop over time. Our User Guide will need to change along with us. This is a great thing to revisit as a company periodically, although employees should be able to revise their User Guide any time.
Introducing User Guides in your company right now will show your people how much you really care about them while at the same time, helping people to better interact and collaborate together.