The word culture has many different meanings. What it means to me, may not be the same thing it means to you, or the next guy. But what does it mean to our firms? A culture is a set of shared beliefs, values, customs and behaviors of people in an organization that is viewed both internally and externally. Culture impacts a firm and should be a priority. Basically, it's the personality of an organization. How does your firm's "personality" come across?
It's all about the leadership. It's about the behaviors, and it starts right at the tippy top. The top defines the personality of the firm, which in turn has a trickle down effect to the rest of the firm. What are your behavioral values? What are your guiding principles? What does your organization believe in? How are your leaders emulating these values?
Shared values are the foundation of any culture. If you have this in place - great! Your firm culture, values and guiding principles should be proudly displayed throughout, as well as in your handbook for all to access as a reminder. If the top isn't living the values of the firm, you can bet the rest aren't either.
Talk about the culture of the firm to new hires during orientation. Give them an understanding of the firm's origination, share some stories. It will help form that bond early on, and the new hire will feel a part of the culture and the values the firm has.
So what to do?
- Define core behaviors that are expected of every single person in the firm, and educate them
- Maintain the lines of communication
- Live up to your commitments
- Be a good listener
- Maintain a professional image
I can go on and on. The one important advice I will add, is, always say "please", "thank you" and "good job". Those little words really go a long way! Rome wasn't built in a day, but laying the foundation will benefit everyone in the long run.