In the high-pressure world where many people work, executives, managers and employees sometimes fail to focus on how to improve corporate culture, which often takes a back seat to a focus on billable hours and producing profits. Bruce Madnick, managing partner of top-50 accounting firm Friedman LLP, believes a positive work culture is key and thinks everyone can contribute to it.
If you’re interested in helping create a positive, sharing and transparent culture, here are Madnick’s top tips to stand out in the crowd:
1. Be quick to share credit when something goes well. Have you heard the quote: “Leaders take all the blame and give away all the credit”? Madnick believes every manager should recognize contributors on his or her team whenever there is a success to celebrate. He celebrates everyone’s roles in “wins” and does not solely focus on those who may typically receive accolades, such as employees directly involved in landing a new client.
How can you inspire a culture where the organization values and acknowledges each person’s role, including those who keep the office running or make fresh coffee each day? For example, at Friedman LLP, everyone is recognized via the firm’s “Lead Sheets,” which are published to celebrate successes.
2. Raise your hand when nonrevenue activity comes along. “Every charity drive, company picnic, sports team and holiday party is a chance to step up and demonstrate leadership in a way that benefits the whole company,” Madnick says. He explains: “We often find leaders through internal events and charity drives. Often, these are great people who just haven’t yet had the opportunity to lead client engagement, and we learn a lot about them by what they contribute.”
At many companies, it is the employees – not partners or senior managers – who set the bar for community service activity. An organization with a strong corporate culture likely attracts employees who appreciate the opportunity to give back via volunteer work such as Habitat for Humanity and soup kitchens. If you have a favorite charity or cause, consider how you can get others in your organization involved in giving back. When employees and leadership members can rally around a great cause, it can really improve the organization’s culture.
3. Show industry leadership. Getting involved in a professional organization is a great way to represent your company and help create a positive corporate culture. Madnick suggests you volunteer to serve on committees and work on projects. When you are directly involved in solving the problems facing your profession, you gain visibility and enhance both your own reputation and the employer’s brand. While this type of volunteer work does not generate billable hours, it helps produce good will and extends the organization’s networking capacity – each of which improves company culture.
4. Collaborate. Rarely will a firm that silos its employees win any awards for corporate culture. Madnick encourages employees to reach out across silos to educate fellow professionals about new opportunities. He notes: “We recently sent a few people from one office to another to help with a large project and were very happy to see that they reported back on opportunities for more such collaborations. They were creating new links among the staff so more knowledge of each professional’s skill sets spread – and that creates opportunities for cross-selling.”
Consider how you can suggest opportunities to cross train by both learning from and teaching others in your organization. Every time you reach out, you’re strengthening the company culture. Plus, Madnick notes: “Employees who consistently network from other disciplines and offices are more visible to managers and are more likely to be fast tracked for advancement and new assignments.”
Keep in mind that when you help contribute to a positive company culture, you’re enhancing your personal brand, and you’re more likely to be appreciated at work.
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