No company can escape having a culture. Culture will either wander aimlessly, or you can define where you want it to go and establish the tools to set the right direction. It’s like a car moving down the road; if you don’t choose to steer where it is heading, you may not be happy where it arrives.
At Sendero, internal employee-run committees exist to help plan and promote activities across the company, all with 2019 specific goals related to our culture. The Quarterly Planning Committee, Sendero Cares, Wellness Committee, Salt Committee, and Diversity & Inclusion Committee all sound pretty self-explanatory… except for the “Salt” one.
So, what is “Salt”? At Sendero, it means much more than a common seasoning. The Salt Committee serves to support the engine, as well as the guiding forces, on the steering wheel of our culture.
For hundreds of years, salt has been used to preserve food and enhance its flavor. We saw it as a rather fitting name for a group dedicated to doing the same for our company’s culture. Early on, Sendero’s leadership identified a need for a formal group that would help promote, preserve, and strengthen our culture as we grew in number and locations.
We all know that preservation of culture is important for a company’s success—but what tangible actions make this happen?
Keep it Real
Culture seems to be the intangible that exists within all companies but can’t be grasped. If this is the case, there are most likely activities happening in your company, even if you don’t know it. Employee-led escape room outings, special themed lunches, golf & bowling tournaments, fantasy football – Events like these could be taking place at an organic level but are floating in the unknown as they haven’t been identified, championed, and supported at a company level. Write the activities down, what is taking place, who is doing it, how are they making it happen, and where could it use help—these are the tangible artifacts of your culture. Don’t forget to think about and capture other events, relationships, and/or traditions within your company. Like the dashboard of a car, having a clear understanding of what is already taking place within your company gives visualization and understanding to the details of your drive, and can alert you when you’re heading the wrong direction or maintenance is required.
We have all been in those meetings where someone says, “We should do something about this!” and everyone nods in agreement but are shocked the next week when they reconvene, and the action didn’t take place because there was no ownership. Define who oversees and supports your activities (cultural artifacts). This person or group may not be the original activity organizer but are the defined advocates, ensuring that culture activities continue, and are supported to grow or change where wanted and needed.
It’s also critical to get the buy-in of those at the top. Leadership can show culture has value by providing guidance, a stage (both literally and figuratively), and funding to ensure it is preserved and fostered. Your culture will need to be given value, because without, it is just an afterthought and will drift between lanes at the mercy of good or bad times.
Change It Up
As your organization evolves and grows, it is critical to stay in touch with your employees and evaluate the cultural artifacts that you are supporting. Changing and evolving alongside your organization will foster greater buy-in from your people and in turn help preserve your culture. Don’t be afraid to add or subtract activities to adapt to employees’ changing interests. Sometimes beloved past destinations aren’t as appealing as new adventures while a company expands and evolves.
There is never a “one size fits all” solution to preserving culture, but there are conscious decisions that help steer your company to its strongest, most cohesive self. At the end of the day, it’s all about building a place where your people want to be.
So… does your company’s culture need some salt?