Dumebi Egbuna
September 21, 2021

How to Influence Company Culture If You’re Not a CEO

When you think about working for a company where employees are satisfied, motivated, and engaged, there’s likely one term that probably comes to mind first: company culture. And for good reason — the vibe of an office and the people who come to work there every day have a huge impact on the employee experience happiness, and a business’ success.

Fostering a healthy and cohesive company culture doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen by coincidence. A common belief is that a company’s culture stems from its leadership. If employees see the CEO working super long hours, then the company culture will be one of poor work-life balance. While this sentiment definitely has its merits, employees cannot put all of the ownness on leadership.

Let’s dive into everything you need to know about company culture — including how you can influence yours, even if you’re not at the top.

What is Company Culture?

Simply put, company culture is the personality of a company. The term encompasses an organization’s values, ethics, vision, behaviors, and work environment. It is what makes every company unique, and it affects everything from public perception to employee satisfaction and retention.

A company’s culture is influenced by everyone who works there, and it is dynamic, so it must be nurtured in order to remain positive. Even a company with just one employee has a culture. That entrepreneur is the one with the vision, values, and ethics, and when looking to expand her team, she must seek out individuals who she feels would be a good match with the existing culture of the company.

Why does company culture matter?

The average American will spend one-third of their life at work, and the environment in which they spend that time will largely impact their professional life. If your employees work for a company with a culture that aligns with their beliefs and vision, they’ll be more productive, and ultimately more likely to remain with the company. In contrast, if the company culture does not line up with their personal values, they’re more likely to under-perform and maybe even leave the company.

Having a great company culture is no longer just an option. Today’s employees consider it as much they consider salary and paid time off. In fact, a healthy company culture is almost expected among today’s workforce along with traditional benefits.

How can employees influence company culture?

Just because you don’t have a ‘C’ in your job title doesn’t mean that you can’t influence your company’s culture. Again, setting a company culture is not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight, especially if you’re not the one in charge. However, there are some things that all employees can do to make a positive impact on their companies.

1. Be the example

“Alexa, play ‘Man in the Mirror.’”

I know this sounds cliché, but change can start with you. Is there an issue with clique culture? Invite the person who’s always excluded to the next happy hour. Is Chad always mansplaining to the women in the office? Call him out. Behave in a way that fosters inclusion and brings your co-workers together — everyone else will follow your lead.

2. Speak up

If you see behaviors that don’t align with your company’s culture (or the culture its striving for), have a conversation with the person and explain why their behaviors are negatively affecting you working environment. If they persist, say something to your boss or someone in HR. Bad behavior, when unchecked, has the tendency to spread like wildfire, so report it as soon as possible so it doesn’t become a habit.

3. Recognize good work

Complimenting your colleagues on the work they’re doing is a quick and effective way of building employee morale. It is a tangible way of showing them that they are valued in the organization, thus raising job satisfaction and productivity. This will also encourage your coworkers to put in their best efforts, not just for their employer, but also their peers.

Unfortunately, not all leaders understand the importance of cultivating a strong company culture. If that’s the case, it may be time to take matters into your own hands and do your best to create an inviting work environment for your colleagues. It will take patience and perseverance, but if it results in a healthier workplace, it will all be worth it.

P.S. If you have taken steps to positively influence your company, if you’ve communicated in a clear and concise way the need for change and nothing improves, it may be time to move on.

Dumebi Egbuna
Dumebi Egbuna is Co-founder and CMO of Chezie. She is also a self-proclaimed fashionista and lover of all things interior design.

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