Have you ever heard of “A River Runs Through It”? It is a novel about two brothers that then became a movie. It was one of my Grandmother’s favorite movies, probably because it starred Brad Pitt, but that’s a story for another day. It’s also probably why I always think of it and oddly relate it to business and specifically business culture.

A river running through “it”; that could mean so many different things. When a business is “it”, the river is the culture. The culture of a business has the ability to, much like a river, be divisive or be connected.

A river often runs through towns, which divides those towns into two sides. This can easily happen to your business if the culture is divisive. I’ve seen this in multiple companies, especially where the corporate offices and operations team run from a separate location than the service teams. The corporate office is meant to be a support for those service teams, but with a lack of cultural leadership this easily becomes an “Us vs. Them” mentality.

So how do you prevent that from happening? It begins with the leadership team and should really begin with the formation of the company, but it’s never too late. The culture of a company should be embedded into every aspect of what that company does and every person that is part of the team. The metaphorical, cultural river should run through the team and bring a common cause and togetherness to the way the company operates. Have you seen those shirts, “I Bleed Blue” (or red or maroon or whatever your favorite team’s color is)? Your whole team should FEEL the spirit and “bleed” your business. Your company’s culture should quench your employees’ thirst for direction and feed them food for thought.

It sounds obvious, right? But according to an article published by PeopleSpark, “64% of all employees do not feel they have a strong work culture” and “turnover at companies with a poor culture is 48%” (PeopleSpark on LinkedIn). With a connection like that, it’s certainly a topic to take notice of and more importantly take action. So here are 4 ways to make sure your culture is strong and your river unites.

  1. Don’t just create the culture, LIVE the culture. As they say, lead by example. If you create a culture you don’t believe in and don’t speak and do business by EVERY day, then why would your employees even bother?
  2. Engage your employees by asking for feedback and making real changes based on the feedback. Annual Gallup surveys have also shown staggeringly high percentages of employees who are not engaged. In February 2017, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace was released and showed that, “70% of U.S. Workers are not engaged at work” (Gallup.com). Keep a pulse on the engagement of employees at all levels and take action where necessary.
  3. Hire people that fit the culture and coach those people to do the same. The wrong hire and/or an actively disengaged employee can completely dismantle the culture of your business.
  4. Consider a flatter organizational hierarchy and step away from the top-down mentality. There are many different approaches to organizational structure and finding what will work best for your company is the key. According to an article, The 5 Types of Organizational Structure, by Jacob Morgan for Forbes, “A ’flatter’ structure seeks to open up the lines of communication and collaboration, while removing layers within the organization” (check out the article at Forbes.com).

These steps are just the beginning and your culture should be unique to your business. Whether it be diversity, collaboration, commitment, something else or all of the above, be certain it’s known and lived by. Culture can be defined as to “maintain in conditions suitable for growth”. Make sure your culture does just that for your business.

About Tantam Health

Tantam Health specializes in onsite clinics, worksite clinics and nearsite clinics. Their innovative programs, advanced reporting capabilities, and unique structure of their team allows them to deliver customized solutions that exceed their client’s expectations. The company takes a team-based approach to their worksite healthcare delivery model, adhering to patient-centered medical home (PCMH) guidelines set forth by the NCQA. Learn more at www.tantamhealth.com

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