“Culture” has been a business buzzword for the last decade. Organizational gurus say it should be every business owner and CEO’s #1 priority, claiming that a strong culture can create extraordinary results like improved productivity, lower employee turnover, more sales, and higher profits.

But restaurant owners, you may be asking yourself, “What is company culture, and how do I get it?” You’re experts in building culture for customers, but what about for your own employees?

My organization has been helping leaders create positive work environments through “culture-building” for over ten years. I was fortunate to experience the benefits of culture-building several times during my career in hospitality. It made all the difference between a happy and productive work environment and dysfunction.

Some of these positive cultures were created and maintained by exceptional leaders who didn’t have a cultural playbook. They knew intrinsically how to get a team to coalesce. Other cultures were designed intentionally by leaders who understood how to create, embed, and maintain a great company culture. The latter organizations had remarkable resilience.

Whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, culture is created when humans form into groups. It’s what humans do in the absence of written rules. We are, by nature, culture creators. We cultivate it subconsciously to establish a sense of safety and belonging.

Families are the most common example of this essential human behavior. In business, a culture will be created—whether it’s intentional or not. If it’s unintentional, that culture can be a silent bond that either unites or destroys a team. But if culture is intentionally created, nurtured, and maintained, it can be the glue of all great organizations.

All of this depends on leadership that understands it’s their #1 priority to create and manage the precious commodity of culture. Once that culture is defined and results are shared with the team, leadership then must demonstrate that culture in practice. But how exactly do you do that?

restaurant owner and manager

Maintaining a healthy culture is a skill that must be learned. When leadership defines and shares values with your team, the team will expect them to live and exemplify those values. Concepts like respect, honesty, and integrity will become behavioral assumptions.

I tell every business owner interested in accessing the power of culture that they shouldn’t actually define or share their vision and values if they don’t plan to nurture them relentlessly. This is no small order. Investing in training that teaches managers how to manage the culture is essential.

The team’s enthusiasm for a codified culture’s promise can turn to disappointment—and potentially even resentment—if it isn’t managed correctly. Many employees tell me stories about companies they worked for that had the core values emblazoned on the wall or on posters, while leadership displayed behavior that contrasted with those values. The outcome was always the same; the story never had a happy ending.

Don’t get caught in this trap. Learn how to start managing culture expectations from your employees and how to hold managers accountable for maintaining that culture in my free download, Managers as Coaches: 9 Leadership Lessons. By teaching your management how to lead rather than just manage, you set your business—and employees—up within a strong, positive culture.

For more coaching and training tips, visit my website! One Degree Coaching offers employee training, leadership coaching, culture codification, and more to help businesses like yours build toward better success.