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What Your Team Can Teach You About Culture

Sean Dailey, Ytel |  

With sites like Glassdoor providing prospective employees an insider's view of your company culture, that culture is now more important than ever. Observe and learn from your current happy employees to ensure that you can always stay competitive in the market for the top talent you're looking for. Here are ten things that your current employees can teach you about culture.

Observe and learn from your employees to ensure that you can always stay competitive in the market for the top talent you're looking for. Here are ten things that your current employees can teach you about culture.

Culture is about daily work practices.

Do your employees come back in from lunch on time, or do they see the lunch hour as merely a guideline? Maybe you bring lunch in, and everyone eats together and then gets back to work with minimal down time. Can you get people to stay late when there are urgent tasks at hand, or a 911 issue? The way your current employees act will be how your future employees act, and setting those expectations early on is best. 

Language is important.

Do employees treat each other with respect, or does your corporate floor sound like a men's locker room? Neither culture is better (some might argue!), but each attracts a different kind of employee. Decide which kind of employee you want, and encourage the behavior and language that matches that. 

Do employees feel comfortable being personal?

Do employees have pictures of family on their desks? Do they bring in their own desk accessories? Are they comfortable leaving their belongings in the office overnight? These all point to a company culture that engenders trust, which is a positive thing to foster and encourage as a manager or business owner. 

Is there a culture of mentorship or competition?

If your senior employees are secure in their positions, they will be more likely to share information with the new hires. If you engender a culture of heel nipping, however, you should not expect a smooth flow of knowledge from one generation of employees to another.

Do people seem organized behind a vision?

A company with vision is an organized company. If everyone knows which file cabinet houses which information so to speak, you can be more sure that people are moving in the same direction. Holding quartely or annual company wide meetings where your CEO or leadership team talks about the company vision and where you're headed is a great way to keep your employees clued in on company goals, direction and growth. 

Are your managers playing babysitter?

Your executives and managers should be growing your business, not mediating petty disputes. The average Fortune 1000 executive spends 13% of his or her day doing the latter. Reduce this statistic for a better overall culture and increased productivity.

Do employees feel comfortable expressing themselves?

The hierarchy in the business environment is there for a reason, but the validity of the corporate title is far reduced from past generations of workers. Empowering a merit based culture will open up a flow of ideas, many of which will come from the bottom of your corporate pyramid. Your team should feel comfortable speaking openly with their manager and other coworkers on the job, if about nothing else, just as they brainstorm and collaborate together. Encouraging anything less than this will hurt your culture. 

Who is rewarded in your company?

Is there favoritism in your company politics? Emotion is a natural part of being around people all day, but balance is key. Consider investing in a gamification structure to take the emotion out of rewards. For example, the first five agents to close ten deals will get $200 cash. It's a simple goal, can be clearly communicated office-wide, and also fuels healthy competition amongst your agents. Read more about gamification here.

Do employees share knowledge and wear multiple hats?

Is your business stratified, or is there communication between departments? The smaller your business, the more hats your employees will need to wear. It is up to your management and executive teams to properly delegate responsibility based on merit, not title, and outsource when necessary to keep everyone from drowning in work. 

Is there a culture of gossip?

Do employees know too much about each other's personal lives? Companies should encourage employees to work together and be friendly. However, employees who gossip regularly and openly may be a bit too close for your business structure and culture guidelines. Consider a policy that will keep the outside world where it should be kept - outside.

Got any culture tips that have worked for your business? Leave me a comment or tweet me!

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About The Author

Sean Dailey, Ytel

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Sean leads the Recruiting efforts and is involved with Product Development at Ytel. After almost 4 years of agency recruiting, Sean decided to move towards internal recruiting and joined Ytel. He is a huge believer in culture, and puts an emphasis on building relationships.


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