Creating a Cooperative Company Culture

The latest buzz word in business today is “company culture”. It refers, in part, to the overall atmosphere and mission of the company. Many entrepreneurs begin the best of intentions and hire people who have the same values and commitment to their objective. Yet somewhere along the line, in the day-to-day realities and responsibilities of work, they find that the overall mood of the work environment has diminished.

While businesses need to have a certain level of professionalism about them, the most successful ones also support an element of unity, caring, and to some extent a family-like mindset. My maternal grandfather, Dominick Sole, emigrated to this country from Italy in the early 1900’s. He eventually founded one of the three largest tin can companies in the United States. While his expectations of quality were high, his workers were valuable not only in the sense of how well they could produce a superior product but also as human beings – friends, neighbors, his second family. They were often included in family gatherings. And during the Great Depression in the 1920’s, the loans he made to them were later canceled, much as he would do for his own flesh and blood.

Businesses today would learn much about creating a successful and productive company culture if they followed a few simple guidelines:

1. Recognize each person’s unique talents and abilities and discover way to showcase them. In areas where one may be weak, explore ways they can strengthen or develop them.
2. Create a forum where coworkers can share compliments and accolades about one another. Openly celebrate each person’s successes as a group.
3. Create a “Getting to Know You” opportunity where new employees are invited to share their history, beliefs, etc. in a safe and welcoming environment.
4. Demonstrate why a cooperative workplace environment is conducive to each employee. Those who have a vested interest in their company and feel valued will most likely be more dedicated to their job.”People who help to build a company are less likely to allow it to be destroyed.”
5. Encourage workers to reach out and assist one another whenever possible. Lending a helping hand fosters feelings of gratitude, team spirit, connectedness, and mutual respect for one another.
6. Find common ground. How are we similar? What values, beliefs, levels of education, work responsibilities etc. do we share? Commonalities establish a level of understanding and bonding that unites coworkers.
7. Encourage workers to be assertive, speak openly and respectfully to one another, and resolve their differences peacefully. This may require specialized training but it is well worth the investment.
8. When disagreements arise, remember to attack the problem not the person. Each person’s position has equal value and must be acknowledged as such even though others may not agree with it.
9. Treat each coworker as though they were your child, for they are someone’s for sure. If that sounds unreasonable, treat them as though they hold the key to your success or life in their hands. Remember, the kindness you send out is what you receive back.
10. Encourage and reward honesty, integrity, cooperation, mutual respect, and fairness on the job. Small acts of appreciation and recognition pay huge dividends.

“Company culture” may be the latest catchphrase but the principles for running a successful business are time-tested and proven. For all owners, CEO’s, managers, and bosses: you are all employees working for the same good of the customer. While you may wear different hats, be referred to with a different title or have a key to the executive washroom, you are an employee just the same. Let not your ego dictate your words and actions but rather your recognition of oneness with all who surround you. Treat your employees well and you will be repaid tenfold.

“Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.” ~ Ephesians 6:7

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