WANT THE BEST COMPANY CULTURE? Cultivate kindness.
By Adrienne Bankert
Inclusivity, diversity and philanthropy have long been held as both markers and requirements for healthy workplace culture. The best company culture achieves all this and more in an authentic way. But how? You can easily search for a definition of company culture to include shared values and priorities, personality and goals. Still many businesses are at a loss for what to do to achieve and effectively communicate that.
A quick study of the root meaning of the word helps us find our way.
1. The act of tilling and preparing the earth for crops; cultivation; the application of labor or other means of improvement. …2. to improve good qualities in, or growth; as the culture of the mind; the culture of virtue.
3. The application of labor or other means in producing; as the culture of corn, or grass.
4. Any labor or means employed for improvement, correction or growth.
Source: Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1828.
These definitions would contrast greatly with the idea that culture is created haphazardly or automatically, or that it is essentially what we end up with when we gather a group of people in any one place for a given length of time. What if we took back the power of culture as a means to “improve” our business places and the world? What if the power to change culture was in our hands as a tool or instrument, much like a farmer who learns different practices for making things grow?
CULTIVATE KINDNESS FOR THE BEST WORK CULTURE
Based on the American Dictionary of the English Language, there could be no such a thing as bad company culture. Everything about culture in this definition is about betterment. Good company culture certainly involves being invested in employees but it cannot be the sole objective. Much like the land that a farmer cultivates, there is a cyclical giving and receiving in relation to the harvest. It is crucial that employees are more than nurtured, but educated in how to repeat the cycle of investment into their colleagues and community. Here are some ideas when considering developing and resetting company culture:
1. Giving employees a sense of ownership is paramount to developing a culture of leadership and accountability.
1. Mentor based methods of care and training provide a culture of safety so that teams don’t feel that they have to learn via trial by fire. This will promote teachability and active listening within a workplace culture.
2. Investing in employees’ overall career path, 5 or 10 years down the road and not merely their tenure will raise up invested visionaries who see the future.
3. Adopting a culture where the team is encouraged and expected to pay it forward, will lead to more generous and philanthropic culture.
4. Communicating kindness as a power and not mere politeness, will lead to a culture of compassion even under pressure.
GROW YOUR GARDEN
With this multifaceted approach to improvement, culture can expand beyond the four walls and Zoom calls to be truly transformative in each team member and the community in a genuine expression. The alternative is a sense of corporate obligation.
The “best” at producing an environment of innovation, empathy, and inclusion do not take on culture as a mascot. Culture is more than just a collective of people doing the same things. It does not exist as a cookie cutter process nor is it an ethereal cloud of good-will that hovers above the most mindful employees and extroverts. Whether talking about organizational culture, ideas surrounding company culture, and some of what most would consider good company culture traits, the bottom line is that culture is work. When we can be kind enough to relate to employees not just as positions to fill but as gardens to grow, we will truly experience the culture shift the marketplace needs right now.
Adrienne Bankert is an ABC News national correspondent and author of “Your hidden Superpower: The Kindness that makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone.”
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