AS A younger man, when I was an apprentice heading off to work each day at QAL with about 2000 other people, I used to hear the word "culture" used in relation to the work place.
I never really knew what it meant, and really, I didn't care, as long as I was getting paid my first year apprentice wages of $199 per week (of which $115 was going into my savings for my first house purchase - more on that another week).
Back then, apart from when it was talked about by one of the managers, the only other thing I knew about culture was that there was some of it in yoghurt.
So, what have I learnt since then? A lot. And, a lot about workplace culture.
Being a small business owner, understanding both your organisation's culture, as well as what is driving it, could be one of the most important things you will do today.
But, what is culture? The best way to describe it is; "the way we do things here".
Culture doesn't just happen, though, it is developed over days, weeks, months and even years.
Once a culture is ingrained in your business, it can be difficult (not impossible) to change.
So, what are the signs of a poor culture? Disengagement, discontentment, absenteeism, high turnover and poor work performance are the main indicators, though there are more.
The answer to how to drive a great workplace culture is therefore easy to explain (though somewhat more difficult to implement, depending on the business).
Firstly, and most importantly, engage your employees.
Engage them in the process of the business, engage them in the key decisions and engage them in the organisational vision.
Next, rewarded and satisfied workers are content workers.
Reward with regular feedback (good and constructive), pay well and ensure that hard work is recognised.
As a leader, engaged and rewarded employees will support your goals and visions when they feel empowered to do so.
Give your employee challenging work, empower them to make decisions, avoid micro-managing and be consistent and equitable with your leadership behaviour and you will reduce absenteeism, turnover and poor performance.
There you have it. Engage, reward, empower and challenge your employees to build a strong workplace culture!