Written by Cathy McCosker | 27th August 2021

Managers play a vital role in the promotion of a positive workplace culture. You are responsible for delivering and implementing values, policies and objectives – the link between top level staff and employees.

Company culture is essentially a shared set of behaviours and mind sets that influence how people work. As a manager you could be described as a ‘guardian’ or ‘keeper’ of culture – you have a direct effect on your teams attitudes and behaviour as well as being drivers of cultural change.

Here we look at the importance of managers in building company culture:

Management style

Manager behaviour sets an example. How do you treat others? Are you on time for meetings? Are you actively listening to your employees?

You can strengthen your business culture by ensuring that your actions line up with the business’ values. By setting a good example you are encouraging your team to adopt the culture of the organisation by behaving in a similar way.

For example, if you want a culture focused on growth and achievement, are you motivating and encouraging employees? Are you interested in their learning and development? Do you trust employees and give them responsibility (not micro-managing)?

Managers should be asking their employees for their input and allowing them to make their own decisions – listening to their views and engaging with them. Giving freedom and responsibility to employees fosters a culture of autonomy. When employees are trusted to contribute (with accountability), they are more likely to outperform expectations.

Also, if your company promotes a positive work-life balance and working together, then you should show that through your actions. That might include working reasonable hours and be seen to collaborate across teams/departments.

Communication and staff engagement

Managers that work with their staff, engage them regularly and encourage open conversations and provide timely feedback, generate effective communication within teams.

It’s essential as a manager to be really clear about communicating what behaviours people will demonstrate if they are living the business culture and values. Your leadership style or how you lead your team will encourage everyone to behave in those ways.  You can also embed his in your performance management process and review behaviour in your 1-1 sessions.

In many cases, managers are often responsible for hiring new employees, so you may influence who is brought into the company and who isn’t. If you are involved in onboarding, this is one of the main ways that new employees will learn about your culture, and hiring a good cultural fit is one part of building and maintaining your company culture. However, new staff can also help develop and improve culture.

Building trust

Trust is arguably at the centre of a great culture, and it’s the responsibility of a management team to create that sense of trust with employees.

Are employees trusted to make decisions? Do they feel like their opinions are valued? Do they trust that you as managers will be honest and transparent?

Answering yes to these questions is important and you can do this by working to create genuine relationships with your team and be transparent by sharing your ideas and being open for feedback.

It’s also important that employees have shared goals and a clear understanding of how they can reach them. When they accomplish goals, staff will feel fulfilled, valued and understand how they contribute to the company. That then creates more trust between employees and management teams.

Monitoring performance

Continuous reviewing and monitoring of team performance is a way for managers to gauge and keep on top of company culture.

If some of your team appear to be lacking motivation or disengaged with their work, your culture could be negatively affected. It’s best to keep up with one-to-one meetings so that you can identify issues. Also use this time to discuss employee behaviour/attitude and whether they are exhibiting company values.

For example, in a hybrid working environment, performance should be measured on output and results, not necessarily how many hours the employee puts in at their desk.

Rewards and recognition are another management duty that are a crucial part of performance management. Gallup reports that the most memorable recognition comes from managers and recognition is key in keeping up employee engagement and productivity, both of which will contribute to a positive culture.

Visit our Refocus page for more information and guidance on building and maintaining your company culture. Or if you have any questions about culture, get in touch with our team at [email protected].