You may have heard about some of the challenges at Uber in the news lately. The company grew rapidly from a small start-up to a global organization and is now experiencing what many believe to be some major growing pains. It seems clear that the company failed to build a strong ethical culture prior to their explosive growth. As a result, they are experiencing some very public issues including an allegation that Uber’s male-dominated work environment fostered harassment against female employees and a video recently released of the company’s CEO swearing at a driver who complained about his rates being cut. Uber seems to recognize that that their culture needs a major overhaul and seem to be making steps to improve it and the public’s opinion of the organization.
Uber is not alone when it comes to these challenges. Businesses of all sizes experience many of these same things. Finding and keeping great employees is especially difficult when you have a poor reputation as an employer. A recent article on Forbes.com provides four steps your company can take avoid an Uber-like company culture disaster.
Understand what company culture is (and what it is not).
Your culture is not defined by your foosball table or your holiday party. All too often companies think of culture as the “fun stuff” you do to keep employees happy and engaged. Those are perks, not culture.
Your company’s culture is the set of shared values that guide employee behavior. As the article mentions, culture is what employees do when no one is look. Culture should be looked at as verb, not a noun. It defines what you do (or don’t do) as an organization.
Establish values that will make the company win ethically.
If your company values haven’t been reviewed in a while (or you don’t have any) now is a great time to take a look. Having catchy values like “always be hustin” or “be yourself” (yes, these are real values reportedly held by Uber) sends the wrong message to your employees about what is really important. In Uber’s case these values were part of an aggressive work environment that focused on individual results, rather than the success of the team.
When establishing your values, avoid using generic phrases like teamwork or productivity. Instead describe the behaviors you hope to see from your employees like “proactively help colleagues succeed.” Your values don’t have to be flashy or catchy, they just need to tell your employees what is important to the success of your organization.
Hold employees accountable to the established values.
Once you have decided on the values for the organization, be sure to communicate those to the employees often. Explain their importance and how they will put the company on a path toward success. Make your values a part of the language used by your organization. When providing performance feedback to employees, both positive and negative, reference how the behaviors support or detract from the company values.
Reward those employees that embody those company’s values.
Publicly recognize those employees who embody the company values and make them a part of their work every day. A little peer pressure goes a long way. Other employees will take notice. Make an example of those that are doing things in line with company values. And while you’re at it, make sure you and your executive and management teams are good examples for other employees. It is important that your leaders live and breathe the company values or employees won’t buy-in.
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