Back in January 2015, Merriam-Webster selected “culture” as their word of the year for 2014.  Our of more than 100 million queries on their website each month and a similar number on the company’s app, “culture” increased by 15 percent increase this year over the prior year.

The popularity of workplace culture has continued to grow. I see it in my work and am always encouraged by companies who want to improve the culture at their workplace, because culture matters.

Culture drives everything that happens in organizations, good or bad. It doesn’t take long to sense a company culture. Sometimes you discern it within minutes of walking in the door!

Many studies have demonstrated how organizational culture affects employee engagement – for better or worse.  One report from TinyPulse  (TinyPulse’s 2014 employee engagement report) identified vital trends that impact today’s workplace. Their findings are not pretty!

  • Over half of all employees do not feel they have a strong work culture.
  • Almost half of employees are dissatisfied with their direct boss.
  • The majority of employees do not see opportunities for professional growth.
  • A small minority of employees feel strongly valued at work.

The low level of employee satisfaction and engagement revealed in this research is startling. No wonder top talent is looking for more inspiring jobs in the improving economy. This type of snapshot demands prompt action by leaders, but the reality is that most leaders have little experience with culture creation or culture change. They’ve rarely seen successful culture change, much less led one!

What can leaders do to reverse this trend and build a culture where employees demonstrate mutual trust, respect, and dignity to one another? They need to:

  • Create clear performance standards
  • Establish clear values expectations
  • Hold everyone accountable for both

The tool that brings this all together is an organizational constitution. This is a formal statement that outlines your team (or department or company’s)

  • Present day purpose (reason for being) – this sets the direction for plans, decisions and actions
  • Values and behaviors – this defines what a “good citizen” looks like
  • Strategies and goals – these are specific performance expectations that will be monitored and rewarded

The greatest need for clarification, education and modeling usually comes in the “values and behaviors” portion.

Don’t wait. Create a team foundation of great performance and great values with an organizational constitution. You’ve got everything to gain.

For help with designing and implementing an organizational constitution for your company or team, learn more from my book, The Culture Engine