Company culture has become a hot topic in recent years. We know that the most successful companies of today respect their employees and take care to provide a positive work environment: not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because satisfied and valued employees contribute more to company goals. In fact, I recently posted about company cultures and three keys to creating an inspired workplace. Now I want to get more specific: what actionable steps can you take to put your company on the path to a purposeful and improved company culture?
1. Start valuing good work over hard work.
You’ve probably heard people say, “work smarter, not harder.” Back in the days of non-automated assembly lines and literal throughput, working harder was a big asset. More effort created more items in less time. Today most of us lead creative, knowledge-based firms. If someone is working really hard and burning the midnight oil, perhaps they need some help with time management or additional staffing rather than a medal for their company commitment.
Maybe it’s not so important that everyone show up by 9am and stay until 6 … maybe your super-creative marketing guy or your introverted and talented engineer does better if they arrive at 10 or 11. Start thinking less about rules and more about how you can make life easier and more conducive to creative ideas and inspiration.
2. Offer a true teleworking policy.
If you don’t trust your employees to work hard from home, you have bigger fish to fry than creating an inspired culture. Hopefully you do trust your employees and can provide an official, flexible teleworking policy. Some companies allow teleworking somewhat unofficially, but then employees might still feel like it’s taboo to take advantage of it, or that it should only be used for emergencies or sick days. (Side note: You should encourage your employees to take true sick days if they’re truly sick. Simply working from another environment where you can blow your nose without grossing anyone out is not really “resting” to get better.)
Try picking one day a week that teleworking is not only allowed, but encouraged. You could select a different day by team or organization or come up with another scheme. Perhaps Monday or Tuesday is a good choice. This way the teleworking is coordinated and everyone is still getting face-time the rest of the week. Your employees can take a breather from their commutes and also get some alone time for tasks better completed without interruption. The biggest reason to do this is to show your employees respect for their decision-making and wellbeing.
3. Cut the number of meetings in half.
Be honest with yourself: are all of the meetings that you attend beneficial to you or your work in some way? If you’re in a position to pick and choose which meetings you attend, perhaps most of your meetings are beneficial … but trust me when I tell you that in most larger companies employees spend way too much time in meetings.
That being said, many meetings are important. Especially with functions like sales where employees are generally “people persons”and also where creating friendly competition in a face-to-face environment can be greatly motivating. I’m not suggesting meetings aren’t important, I’m merely suggesting you revisit your approach and see if you can improve things a bit to the benefit of your company and your employees.
What’s worse than the number of meetings is the amount of multitasking that occurs—open laptops, people on their phones, side conversations, etc. We all think we can multitask, but the truth is, we can’t. Maybe we can switch focus quickly, but that’s not beneficial to the meeting or to whatever we’re doing on our laptops. While you cut down on meetings, you can also address this sticky issue because in some cases, the two problems are related.
I believe there are two main reasons for too many meetings: (1) fear or lack of desire to change and (2) an unfounded need for consensus.
We have evolved with our communication tools and ways of working. We have email, instant message, cell phones, videoconferencing, and webcasts as well as other modern collaboration tools. We do not need to meet once a week on eight different things to discuss status. We just don’t. We also don’t need 20 people to agree on one course of action. When you have people in a meeting that don’t need to be there, they are more likely to multitask. Plus, multitasking is distracting at best and contagious at worst.
Ask your employees to do a few things with the goal in mind of cutting the number of meetings in half.
- Reconsider regularly scheduled meetings to decide if some of them can be less frequent (maybe every other week instead of weekly?) or axed altogether.
- Revisit invite lists of regularly scheduled meetings and trim down who really needs to be there.
- Be thoughtful when creating invite lists and use the “optional” function to let people off the hook when it makes sense.
- Include an objective or short agenda in the body of the invitation. A minimum of one short sentence explaining the purpose of the meeting.
- Start the meeting by requesting that everyone shut their laptops and put away their phones. It’s best when this request is paired with an explanation of why it’s important that everyone pays attention and stays engaged.
Well, I could go on and perhaps I will in another post, but these are three tips to get you started in the direction of an improved company culture. Do you have other ideas? Have any of the above worked for you? Let me know in the comments below.
This article was originally published on Linkedin Pulse.