There are many great publications about the business benefits of an open company culture.
Moreover, it appears that the trend towards more openness is simply inevitable if you want to hire and retain the best talents out there. With millennials hitting the workforce, talents increasingly expect more from a company culture, as well as compensation and benefits.
That being said, there is a whole world of possibilities between a fully transparent flat start-up where decisions are consensual or an ideal team organization as described in the inspirational blog “Reinventing organizations” by Frederic Laloux, and stuffy big companies with a siloed hierarchy operating on a command-and-control basis.
Below are some principles that you can easily introduce into your HR management to take you a long way.
1. Shift from micromanaging to accountability
How does this work? Every manager fixes goals and holds the team accountable for their achievement, giving them some room as to the how. The complicated part is enforcing this culture on the company scale.
In our company’s experience, we successfully used a top-down approach to instil this type of culture throughout the company’s tissues.
2. Truly relax your dress code!
Living in San Francisco, it is difficult to remember that most of the world wears a suit to work. While jeans and sneakers might be an extreme, some flexibility from the very formal attire naturally creates a more open vibe without any other effort.
Naturally, here also, it needs to be practiced by the very top to be accepted.
3. Flexible hours and flexible working places!
If you manage to instore the accountability culture, it will not matter when or where employees actually work, if they make things work.
Of course, total flexibility naturally suits certain professions better than others, developers being the natural example. That is probably why Silicon Valley has such an easy time with accountability, flexibility and a relaxed dress code at work. Still, some of that flexibility allows for better work–life organization and benefits the employee as well as the company. In my junior years, I remember systematically putting in 2 to 3 hours of extra work every evening to make up for the 1 hour less office time that I was allowed to take.
4. Collaboration between business units and geographies!
Make sure your employees can occasionally work outside of their immediate work team and business unit, for example, on a cross-functional project or with a team in the same department but a different location. Such experiences improve results, enrich the employee experience and naturally promote a more open culture.
5. Management visibility and dialogue!
Introduce some form of dialogue with the company management. Allowing some form of employee reaction to communication messages and some form of indirect dialogue with the CEO create a perception of transparency and help employees to share the company goals.
6. Global ideation process
Introduce a global ideation process, a way for everybody in the company to suggest things. If you feel uncomfortable doing this continually, start with a trial for a limited time allowing only one idea per person.
If you achieve a decent participation rate, that means you are doing quite well on the open culture scale!
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