Best Company Traits: A Positive Culture by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

“Best Company Traits: A Positive Culture” | Written By: Mary Juetten, Contributor / Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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For any living, breathing thing to thrive, it needs the right environment. And while companies are very much not alive in any sort of physical or actuarial sense (despite what any court rulings might suggest), they are in a way an organism of sorts, a whole made up of parts performing necessary functions. And in that regard any business needs the right circumstances if it hopes to grow and flourish. To carry the analogy further, there are a lot of things that make up the environment a company needs, but possibly the most important is the culture it builds and maintains.

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Culture, for all of its importance, rarely gets its due consideration as to its actual implementation and maintenance. It’s easy to say that you want a great culture, or to proclaim your company culture to be wonderful and positive and every other characteristic you aspire to, but it’s a lot harder to make it a reality than simply speaking it into existence. It takes work and a concerted effort to practice what you preach, particularly in the face of every challenge thrown your way in the workaday world of just about any industry you can name. Work-life balance is a notionally great idea, but how do principles hold up in the face of very-real deadlines and workloads that strain the capabilities of your workforce? Of course, no idea has to be so rigid as to hinder your actual mission, and employees can still understand that you value their free time while recognizing the occasional need for  overtime to accomplish what’s needed. But it’s important to recognize that those sacrifices and challenges are easier to sell for a company that has inspired loyalty, and it’s a safe bet that businesses that engender that sort of love have a culture that has bred that feeling. 

It’s easy to be sceptical that the idea of culture exists, particularly if you come from a world in which it isn’t emphasized or promoted, but it’s a very real thing, recognized or not. It’s a pervasive mood that seeps into the psyche of everyone involved, a collective memory and ethos that informs everyone in the building, even those too new to have been around at the inception of those seminal notions. The best companies are the ones that have nurtured the positive and weeded out the negative, creating an environment where people feel empowered to take initiative and to do good work; the worst, those that ultimately fail, are the ones that give reign to all of the worst impulses and negative emotions that are wrought from the slings and arrows of business. It can largely be said to be fear: a fear of failure, of getting chewed out by the boss, of potentially getting fired, of the scores of things that can go wrong. That fear drives every other negative behavior, and creates an environment that the best people away. To carry the analogy from above further still, flowers can’t grow in such conditions, but weeds certainly can, and with a poor culture, your business will eventually only be staffed by those who thrive on conflict and negativity. 

What makes up a good culture? Would that there were a universal answer that every executive could look to. As with so many other elements, each business is different and unique, not only in its composition but in its experience and industry and every other factor that informs your choices going forward. There are certainly universal principles that any company should seek to implement in a culture that people would want to work in. Perhaps the foremost of those is respect, a simple enough idea that is nevertheless harder to establish in practice. We all want to be treated with respect, to feel like we are seen as a person regardless of our stature within the company, and in turn it’s fair to ask any and all to treat others with the same respect that we seek for ourselves. Respect is more than politeness in how we interact with each other, however; it’s empathy and consideration for the needs and concerns of others on a professional and personal basis. It’s the Golden Rule, applied in real life, a point in favor of those who suggest that everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten. 

Of the many other qualities that make up a positive culture, honest communication is another to be highlighted as foundational. Everything you hope to do is built upon clear communication, and that can’t happen if people are unable to be honest in what they say for whatever reason. Whether it’s to spare someone else’s feelings or to cover our own backsides, we’ve all been less than forthright in our communication with others. Whatever the reason, that failure to communicate the most accurate information can do some harm, whether it be marginal or magnitudes greater, and it’s an unnecessary hindrance to your overall mission. Creating an understanding that honest communication is important, and that honesty and forthrightness won’t result in negative consequences, is vital to building a better culture and work environment for your company. 

A positive culture isn’t a panacea for the greater ills that might be facing your company;  the most positive of vibes won’t solve cash flow issues, or rid you of competition or other market forces that array themselves against your business. But it does allow your business and the people within it to do their best work, to succeed given everything else needed for growth and further development. In its absence, negativity and bad blood will fester, and your company will die on the vine, regardless of whatever other efforts you might make.  #onwards.


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“Best Company Traits: A Positive Culture” | Written By: Mary Juetten, Contributor / Forbes – Entrepreneurs
October 8, 2019 at 08:10AM
VIEW ARTICLE ON Forbes – Entrepreneurs >> https://www.forbes.com/sites/maryjuetten/2019/10/08/best-company-traits-a-positive-culture/

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