By Ben Muncaster, Director of Operations

Creating the right culture can often be a key factor in the success of your business. When this is done correctly, you will quickly see the improvements and reap the benefits. However, if it goes wrong then it can prove incredibly difficult to manage.

Thankfully, it is possible to create a culture that is right for you and your business, and to change a culture that you know isn’t working.

Like most things in life, realising this change is not always easy. Implementing new practices and trying to shift ingrained mentalities is often daunting, and even a change for the better can come with setbacks.

Speaking as someone who has been charged with the brief to change existing workplace cultures, I can confidently say that I have found that the positives will always far outweigh the negatives and justify the hard work it takes.

Create a vision and values that matter

For most businesses, the culture that you create (directly or indirectly) is a result of various interlocking elements – including:

  • Vision
  • Values
  • Goals
  • Roles
  • Processes
  • Attitudes
  • Assumptions
  • Communications
  • Leadership style
  • Behaviours

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is a pretty good starting point for most businesses. And in order for a positive (and sustainable) culture shift to occur, a combination of these elements will usually need to change.

If you want to create a new culture it’s important to first draw up a list of three things…

Your vision: Where do you want your organisation to go and what is the timeframe for this?

Your values: These should provide a clear framework that sets the parameters for your team to operate clearly and effectively.

Your behaviours: Setting a common standard for all teammates to adhere to in terms of attitude, appearance, etc.

Once you have done this, it suddenly becomes much easier to see how the overall vision will be achieved by working together as a team. However, the change in culture has to come from the top.

Lead by example – motivation is mandatory

To achieve a successful culture shift in any business, the change always needs to be driven by its leaders.

It is important to remain open-minded and to show your staff that the changes that you are making are a positive move for everyone. If your team sees that you’re excited to embrace a new approach, they’ll be far more likely to do the same.

At Northern Accountants, we’re no different from any other business, and we want our team to feel positive about where they work and engaged by the work that they do. Most importantly, we want them to understand how we want to achieve our vision. Our values are fundamental to realising this as they give everyone in the business a clear set of of ground rules establishing the foundation and guiding principles for decision making, taking action and being part of our team.

If you’re looking to change the culture in your business, then the best advice I can give is to take small steps. It’s often much easier to deliver long-term success by breaking down bigger goals into several smaller and more manageable actions.

Address any of the initial fears or reluctance by encouraging every team member in your business to fully participate in all aspects of the change process.

If new tools, technologies or processes need to be introduced, then it’s important to ensure that your team are properly trained if you want these to be applied successfully.

Don’t be afraid to redefine certain roles and responsibilities or amend how success is measured. People tend to be more engaged, and perform far better, when they understand their specific role and how it relates to the larger overall vision. The right people in the right roles is the only way you will succeed in establishing the team and culture you want.

Be bold, take action and create the culture you want – it might be the best business decision you ever make.