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I recently read an article(*) in Entrepreneur magazine about the best company cultures in America. It fascinated me and motivated me to reflect on the culture of my company. Does our vision flow down into our teams the right way? Are our people as excited about what we’re doing (and what we’re planning to do) as we are? 

I surprisingly couldn’t scream a resounding yes to each question that bounced around my head. I realized that with each change in the early years, we should have reevaluated the pertinence of our initial vision for the company — but we didn’t. As we repurposed the talent to accommodate our revised service offerings, we should have stopped to ask how the changes impacted (or were impacted by) how our people perceived (and applied) our core values — but we didn’t.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to pause and reflect on your business. It is after all YOUR business. 

If you find yourself in the same shoes, and wonder if your corporate culture is the best it could be, pause and find real answers to the following 5 key questions. They will be the start of something great!

As a leader, do I (and my partners) live out our mission and core values?
Since everything starts at the top and trickles down, your employees may be confused as to why your mission and statement of core values disagree with what they see in you every day. Luckily, its not the end of the world. Simply revise your mission and vision to align with what’s truly in your (and your partners’) heart(s). You never know, it might be just the catalyst your people need. 

Do my employees feel valued?
And I’m not talking about pay rates and bonuses. If you’re not including your team in conversations about where the company is going or how it’s doing, they may not want to stick around for the next act. If your team members feel like cog instead of contributors with valued opinions, they might just stop caring. So be transparent and honest. Employees that truly feel inclusion and respect will not only have a vested interest in driving your business to the next level but will be your biggest brand advocates. 

Do I actively pursue what’s best for my employees?
If you’re out for #1, you might as well throw in the towel when it comes to corporate culture. Nothing you do or say matters and your employees are just working for their paycheck. But if you actually care about the people who give you hours of their lives in exchange for dollars, then pause and ask yourself what you’re doing to make them better. Empower your employees to develop into the best version of themselves. Give them the tools and resources they need to excel at the task you’ve assigned them. Invest in their personal and professional development. Trust me, your ROI on that investment is guaranteed. 

Do I handle conflict with purpose?
If your people haven’t come to expect and value your constructive criticism something’s wrong. Your honesty doesn’t have to be brutal but it does have to be sincere. Find the opportunities to make meaningful conversation happen. Conflict shouldn’t be feared and if you’re clear with your messaging your employees will see conflict as another opportunity to better themselves — and consequently drive your business’ success. 

Are my foundational principles clear and easy to understand? 
Foundational principles include your vision, mission, and statement of core values. Does every employee understand what drives decision making at the top? These concepts truly make up the foundation your business is built on. So make it count. Define your company’s identity clearly and ensure it truly reflects what you intend. Hire people that not only believe in the same concepts but have the ability sustain it as your business morphs to the next stage of success. 

(*)The 15 Best Company Cultures in America Share Their Secrets