Let’s start by defining organizational culture. My favorite definition is that culture is your organization’s personality and refers to how you “do things.” As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” And that is your culture.
Strong organizations pay close attention to their culture. As more and more of us are working virtually, it has become harder to maintain an awesome culture. Below are five tips for building or maintaining your culture virtually:
- Keep your eye on the prize. Your work is and should remain all about your mission. It is why you exist and should be in the forefront of everything you do. Your mission guides decisions and is the foundation of all your work. It sounds self-evident, but it is easy to forget! Make sure you find ways to bring your work back to your mission.
- Live your values. While your mission is all about why you exist, your values articulate how you behave. Rather than hanging a colorful values poster on the wall, talk with your staff about what your values mean and how you can hold each other accountable to living them.
- Communicate honestly and often. Let your staff know your goals and expectations and how important they are to your organization’s success. Ask them how they are doing and listen carefully to what they say. Everything is not fantastic right now (nor is the sky falling in) so be honest in what you say and be open to hearing what others say.
- Learn (and teach) virtual etiquette. While there is a longer list at the end of this blog, etiquette is all about showing respect for yourself and for everyone around you. Most of us are pretty well versed in office or live meeting etiquette, but the remote world is a new adventure and we are learning as we go.
- Encourage socializing. These days we can’t stop by someone’s office to chat or have lunch or coffee. Yet you want your staff to be involved and invested in the work and in each other. That doesn’t happen with video meetings. Set up a Zoom lunchroom or have community coffee breaks for 15 minutes every day when people can join just to chat. Have a virtual book group or movie night. Host virtual team building events (we won’t go into them here, but you can find many online).
Your culture can be your company’s secret sauce. It’s what attracts staff to your organization and why they stay. Paying attention to culture can make an enormous difference in staff engagement and satisfaction.
Let us know what has worked for you! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what worked (or what didn’t). We are all learning together in this new, crazy mixed up virtual world.