Three Keys to a Thriving Business Culture

ABCIt’s the law of the harvest: you reap what you sow. In order to produce a thriving business, leaders must cultivate an environment where employees can grow. In “The ABCs of a Constructive Culture,” Marriot School professors teach us how it’s as easy (and as necessary) as one, two, three.

  1. Affirmation

“Job well done!” It’s a tired phrase, but according to marketing and entrepreneurship professor Gary Rhoads, it’s also a vital part of any business. “A lot of companies gather positive feedback, but managers never channel it to the people who actually do the work,” he says. Business leaders should look for opportunities to express appreciation and reward employees who bring value to their company.

  1. Belonging

People need to feel connected to others and their organizations through a nurtured sense of belonging. “If you are in an environment where employees feel like a team and the team either wins together or loses together, that’s a better model of organizational culture,” says Jim Brau, associate professor of finance. Promote fairness and foster friendships in a comfortable environment. Don’t exclude employees from the group or deny them individualized attention. In return, you’ll glean high productivity and service quality, as well as employee retention.

  1. Competence

Don’t view your employees as frustrations that simply linger by the water cooler or dirty the microwave. Give responsibility to employees without micromanaging. Give them the independence of working and completing their own assignments. “Employees appreciate being in control of their work performance,” Brau says. “They complete projects, they get the autonomy.” By assigning employees meaningful tasks and allowing them to take control, leaders accelerate learning and empower their employees to solve problems.

Former Marriott School global supply chain professor Stan Fawcett sums it up this way: “By investing in your employees you’re telling them that they are valued, which overlaps with affirmation. If you add a sense of belonging, they are much more likely to stay and keep that value for your organization.”

The ABCs of a Constructive Culture” originally ran in the Fall 2009 issue of Marriott Alumni Magazine.