Company culture is arguably one of most important components of an organization’s long-term success. It clarifies the values of the business and attracts the right talent. It’s the element that bonds all employees together and defines internal and external interactions. It inspires, motivates, and differentiates you from your competitors. And these points just scratch the surface!
Despite the importance of company culture, there’s a huge disconnect at many organizations between what executives think the culture is and what it is in reality. Time after time, this disconnect boils down to the CEO sending contradicting messages. Businesses often write down values and claim to follow them closely, but if the CEO doesn’t consistently demonstrate those values day in and day out, they are a farce.
For example, work-life balance is huge for most employees. A business can claim this as a cultural value, but if the CEO is always working 60-hour weeks and praises employees who do the same, there is cultural dysfunction.
In fact, everything the CEO does sets the tone for what is expected of employees. If the CEO keeps an open-door policy, other managers will do the same. If the CEO focuses on financials, this will define how others track departmental progress. If the CEO is a health nut, people will be more likely to live healthy, or at least have those conversations at work. If the CEO is negative, it sets the tone for the office to be the same. The list goes on and on.
Culture is formed and evolves over time. It’s not just core values posted in the breakroom — the CEO’s efforts are continuously observed by employees. These efforts strongly influence employee engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity. If your CEO is off-base, it’s time to come up with a better game plan for 2016. Leading by example is the best approach.