Imagine you go into work this morning and find a new memo in your cubicle informing you that your boss is launching a new employee contest with a cash reward! Sounds pretty good, ugh? The memo encourages all employees to participate and outlines the rules – all you have to do is make a bet on which of your co-workers will be the next to be fired, including the date and time they will be fired.

Now imagine this is not a joke – it’s a real memo to real employees from a real boss – the boss from “hell”. How would you feel? Would you want to work for an organization that condones such a hostile work environment? Would you participate in the contest, suffer silently or quit immediately? No matter your answer, how would you feel about the organization? Would you work harder, produce better results, provide better customer service…?

It’s true, employees don’t leave companies – they leave bosses and no matter how you slice it, turnover and low morale is expensive.

Now imagine a workplace where your boss actually values your contribution and seeks your input on critical decisions. Imagine he or she encourages you to take risks and explore new, innovative ways of doing your job. The difference between these two workplaces is the CULTURE. All organizations have a culture, the question is, do you have a positive or negative culture?

Organizational culture begins and ends with leadership. If you want to build a positive culture, begin with the end in mind and follow some simple steps:

Lead by Example

If it’s true that employees leave managers, then don’t be a manager employees want to leave. Define why you’re in business and communicate a compelling vision that all employees can rally around. By communicating a defined purpose and core values you create/support your company culture. By living your culture – not just posting it on the website, you’ll gain loyalty.

Hire the Right People

Employee culture starts with the hiring process. Hiring consists of 2 vital components: 1) Expertise – What do they have that you need? 2) Culture or behavior – What do you have that you want to preserve?

Don’t just hire warm bodies. For example, if honesty is important to your business, don’t hire dishonest people!

Most organizations hire based on expertise but FIRE based on culture.

Set High Expectations and Hold People Accountable

The most successful organizations focus on outcomes. They define and rigorously measure success at every level of the organization, which helps each person, team, department and business unit focus on driving performance and results.

You may have low turnover, but that’s not always a good thing, especially if you’re retaining employees who aren’t adding value to your organization. If you’re not addressing dead weight, you’re holding back the performance of the organization and impacting employee engagement. If you’re not recognizing and rewarding superior performance you’re holding back the performance of the organization, impacting employee engagement and risking regrettable turnover.

Leverage Employee Engagement

A positive organizational culture results in engaged employees, which is good for business. Now don’t get me wrong, employee engagement isn’t just about making employees happy. Employees can be dead weight and be perfectly happy. Employee engagement is about energizing employees to extend discretionary effort on behalf of the organization. In other words, energizing them to go “above and beyond” the call of duty to satisfy the customer.

Employee engagement is important because studies have shown that engaged employees:

  • Have a 38% higher productivity rate
  • Create 50% higher customer loyalty
  • Deliver 27% higher profits
  • Produce 50% higher sales

Why be concerned with disengaged employees?

Actively disengaged employees erode an organization’s bottom line, while also driving down the employee morale of those around them. Gallup estimates the cost to the bottom line, in the US workforce, to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone.

Forget the demoralizing contest to predict which of your co-workers will be the next to be fired – lead by example if you want to improve performance.