Which of These 7 Characteristics of a Successful Company Culture Are Present In Your Organisation?
July 20, 2017
‘Company culture’ is the buzzword of our time, and leading life science companies have recognised how important a positive culture is to attracting and retaining the right employees.
As the skill-shortage impacts, our sector and competitors try to poach top talent; it’s never been so important to ensure that your company culture is one that motivates, supports and engages your workforce.
While company culture differs across organisations, there are some common characteristics of successful organisational cultures that are observed across market leaders. Which ones do you think to exist in your life sciences organisation, and how might you go about building these characteristics into your company culture?
Key Characteristics of Successful Company Cultures
1. Everyone knows what their purpose is.
From the senior execs right through to the lab assistant intern, everyone knows what their purpose is, and how that purpose fits into the company’s goals. This sense of purpose is a core pillar of strong company cultures. Everyone knows what they are here to do and why it matters, and this sense of collective purpose is cohesive (and quite exciting to be part of!).
This approach pays tangible dividends, with companies with a strong and well communicated corporate purpose shown to improve performance by 17% in the short term.
If you are building a purpose-driven culture (and you should be), the first step is to establish firmly what the company purpose is. Secondly, management should be taking the time to ensure everyone is clear on how their role feeds into that company purpose. Thirdly, management must also embody this purpose- driven culture, from the CEO down to supervisors.
2. A vibrant learning culture is imperative.
High-performing companies know that they need to foster a learning culture where employees are always growing and building their skills.
A strong training and development scheme (including those employees not on the management track) are vital to a positive company culture, and managers should be consulting with their team members to find out what they’d like to learn and setting stretch goals and career planning to ensure their ongoing development.
A learning culture must also include managers asking for feedback and learning from the ideas of the team.
3. Understanding that everyone is different.
Great companies know that their employees aren’t cut from the same cloth and that individuals can vary widely in how they like to be praised, motivated, developed and rewarded. A successful manager will find out how employees like to be managed, and a successful company will empower the manager to use different strategies to get the most out of each member of their team.
This appreciation of difference also extends to cultural diversity and intergenerational teams.
4. Transparency and vulnerability are not things to run from.
The leaders of top companies understand that showing transparency and vulnerability generates trust and loyalty in their employees. When a manager shares key information with their team or admits when they don’t know something, they are showing that they value and trust their employees.
A brilliant way to show that your company cares about building transparency and the trust that comes with vulnerability is to get every single person in the company to complete a profiling tool (Myers-Briggs or Talent Dynamics for example) to assess their dominant style of working, and management should then share their results with employees, including strengths and weaknesses.
5. Teamwork is a priority.
There are many academically brilliant people working in the life sciences industry, and there can be a tendency towards introversion and a preference for working independently in some areas. Unfortunately, this tendency towards individualism often runs counter to one of the core principles of successful company cultures: a strong sense of teamwork.
Yet it doesn’t have to be this way: Google is a brilliant example of a company built by intellectual, ‘left-brained’ powerhouses but which has a strong culture of teamwork.
Create a strong team structure, with clear roles, chains of command, and expectations. Teamwork becomes much more effective when everyone knows what everyone else does, what is expected of them, and who they need to turn to for information or assistance.
Remove uncertainty, and the team will work more efficiently. Also, while praising individuals is still important, you should put a heavier focus on celebrating team goals to foster a sense of celebration and common purpose in the group.
6. Feedback and communication are the paths to progress.
If there is one thing that leading companies do well, it is communication and creating an effective, free-flowing feedback loops as a core principle of this success. People are often stifled by fear when they want to speak up- whether to a colleague, subordinate, or superior.
This is how teams and companies stagnate, with great ideas left unsaid and conflicts allowed to fester and bloom. Successful companies will run communication training and implement formal and regular feedback processes. Meanwhile, great managers will learn how each individual team member prefers to communicate so they can get the best out of them or perhaps coach them towards a more effective communication style.
7. A culture of support trumps that of competition.
Life science research and sales are competitive by nature, with everyone striving for research breakthroughs and global sales. However, this competitiveness can eat away at company culture, to the extent where people are afraid to admit mistakes, suffer burnout, or can’t put their hand up to ask for help. The most successful companies build a culture of support and openness about mistakes.
A successful company culture creates employees who are loyal, engaged and have a proud sense of ownership in their company. Looking at this list, how will you begin to transform your company culture into something powerful and exciting to be a part of?