Company culture is more than just a mission, vision, and value statement. It’s a set of shared values, beliefs, and expectations that serve as guiding principles for everyone in an organization. Culture is the glue that holds the company together and keeps it strong. It influences how employees interact with and engage one another, your clients, and your contractors. It is essential for retention and attracting like-minded new hires. An effective company culture is also essential for next-level innovation. Here is how to build or establish a strong company culture.

#1 Define Your Objectives

The first step is identifying the type of culture you aim to foster and where your existing culture is not aligned. This will require input from your team. Ask for direct feedback and be ready to listen with an open mind. For transparency, consider sending out an anonymous survey. Once survey results are in, utilize the questions below to define your objectives.

  • What are the non-negotiables in your workplace?
  • What are the measurable outcomes of the culture you desire?
  • How do you hold your leaders and team accountable to your culture?
  • How will you align your culture with your brand story?
  • What type of internal communication and engagement do you desire?
  • What is the external reputation you want to build?
  • What leadership and personality styles align with your desired culture?
  • How will cultural changes be communicated, implemented, and measured?

#2 Define Your Culture Statements

Your core values are your foundation, but to be effective—they must be more than words. Use your team feedback and the answers to the questions above to create or refine your mission, vision, and values statements. For best results, empower your team to be part of this process. They are the ones who will bring your culture to life, so their input is invaluable.

More importantly, when your team participates in the process it generates buy-in. You can work with a branding specialist as part of the process but be sure to involve your team.

#3 Set Departmental and Team Objectives

In addition to your organization-wide values, set individual departmental, team, and project objectives. These objectives are unique but must be aligned with the company’s culture statements. Having a separate set of aligned statements ensures that the message motivates and resonates. It also provides a secondary method of measurement and accountability. With every major decision made, ask your team to measure how it aligns with the desired company culture.

#4 Keep Lines of Communication Open

Change takes time and there will be missteps along the way, especially during times of growth and change. So, keep the lines of communication open.

This can be achieved by:

  • Hosting regular team, project, department, and leadership meetings.
  • Ensuring everyone has a “seat” at the table and time to share.
  • Scheduled one-on-one meetings for both communication and development.
  • Sending out annual or bi-annual anonymous surveys.
  • Performing exit interviews to determine areas of opportunity.

#5 Create an Innovation Culture

An innovation culture is more than open lines of communication. It is an environment that nurtures and encourages disruptive ideation. While required for organizational sustainability, working within an innovation culture can take some getting used to. This is especially true for those who have worked for organizations that shot down disruptive thinking or who only sought out innovation from their leadership team.

Creating a designated innovation program, performing innovation assessments, and leveraging innovation technology will show your team that ideation is one of your values.

#6 Hire for Culture Fit and Culture Add

It doesn’t matter what your intention is, without the right team in place—you will never build the culture you desire.

Ensure your interview process focuses on what candidates bring to the table beyond their professional skill set. Have your HR team include questions that help gauge each candidate’s personality, communication skills, leadership style, and how they work as part of a team. These questions should be included in both the candidate interview and the external reference check. When transitioning to a healthier culture, focus on those who fill both skill and culture gaps.

#7 Be Transparent

A lack of transparency erodes trust, and without trust you can’t have a strong company culture. Even if what you have to share is a major change, your team shouldn’t be left in the dark. Many organizations keep things under wraps out of concern that it will spark chaos. However, the lack of transparency has a more detrimental ripple effect.

  • According to Forbes, 50% of employees feel that they and/or their organization are being held back by a lack of transparency.
  • According to Harvard Business Review, 70% of workers say that they’re most engaged in their job when senior management communicates openly with them.
  • Lack of transparency is found to negatively impact both retention and recruitment.

#8 Lead by Example

Whether good or bad, habits trickle down. Managers are the primary drivers of culture as they lead by example. Your role is to ensure that the example they are setting is one that drives your culture in the right direction. So, you must garner leadership buy-in and hold your leadership team accountable.

Clear, committed, open, and inclusive leadership is essential for building and maintaining strong company culture. A 2022 study by Global Culture Research Report reported that 81% of employees who considered their work culture to be poor have seen managers allow others to get away with inappropriate behaviors. In the same report, 90% of employees shared that their managers play a vital role in creating the microculture of their team.

 

#9 Praise Your Team

Recognition is a valuable part of making your team feel as if they are part of something bigger. This includes direct praise, group praise, and company-wide recognition. Don’t just praise the big wins and measurable success. For example, if a team member brainstormed an excellent idea that you didn’t move forward with—praise their out-of-the-box thinking. Your team member will appreciate the recognition and the praise will help to keep the ideas flowing.

Praising your team should include a designated recognition program, but the day-to-day praise adds more value.

Conclusion

Creating a strong company culture won’t occur overnight. It requires intention, commitment, and ongoing evaluation. Once established, it will need to evolve as your organization evolves. Although it’s a significant investment in time and resources, it builds the team required to drive innovation.

Company culture is more than just a mission, vision, and value statement. It’s a set of shared values, beliefs, and expectations that serve as guiding principles for everyone in an organization. Culture is the glue that holds the company together and keeps it strong. It influences how employees interact with and engage one another, your clients, and your contractors. It is essential for retention and attracting like-minded new hires. An effective company culture is also essential for next-level innovation. Here is how to build or establish a strong company culture.

#1 Define Your Objectives

The first step is identifying the type of culture you aim to foster and where your existing culture is not aligned. This will require input from your team. Ask for direct feedback and be ready to listen with an open mind. For transparency, consider sending out an anonymous survey. Once survey results are in, utilize the questions below to define your objectives.

  • What are the non-negotiables in your workplace?
  • What are the measurable outcomes of the culture you desire?
  • How do you hold your leaders and team accountable to your culture?
  • How will you align your culture with your brand story?
  • What type of internal communication and engagement do you desire?
  • What is the external reputation you want to build?
  • What leadership and personality styles align with your desired culture?
  • How will cultural changes be communicated, implemented, and measured?

#2 Define Your Culture Statements

Your core values are your foundation, but to be effective—they must be more than words. Use your team feedback and the answers to the questions above to create or refine your mission, vision, and values statements. For best results, empower your team to be part of this process. They are the ones who will bring your culture to life, so their input is invaluable.

More importantly, when your team participates in the process it generates buy-in. You can work with a branding specialist as part of the process but be sure to involve your team.

#3 Set Departmental and Team Objectives

In addition to your organization-wide values, set individual departmental, team, and project objectives. These objectives are unique but must be aligned with the company’s culture statements. Having a separate set of aligned statements ensures that the message motivates and resonates. It also provides a secondary method of measurement and accountability. With every major decision made, ask your team to measure how it aligns with the desired company culture.

#4 Keep Lines of Communication Open

Change takes time and there will be missteps along the way, especially during times of growth and change. So, keep the lines of communication open.

This can be achieved by:

  • Hosting regular team, project, department, and leadership meetings.
  • Ensuring everyone has a “seat” at the table and time to share.
  • Scheduled one-on-one meetings for both communication and development.
  • Sending out annual or bi-annual anonymous surveys.
  • Performing exit interviews to determine areas of opportunity.

#5 Create an Innovation Culture

An innovation culture is more than open lines of communication. It is an environment that nurtures and encourages disruptive ideation. While required for organizational sustainability, working within an innovation culture can take some getting used to. This is especially true for those who have worked for organizations that shot down disruptive thinking or who only sought out innovation from their leadership team.

Creating a designated innovation program, performing innovation assessments, and leveraging innovation technology will show your team that ideation is one of your values.

#6 Hire for Culture Fit and Culture Add

It doesn’t matter what your intention is, without the right team in place—you will never build the culture you desire.

Ensure your interview process focuses on what candidates bring to the table beyond their professional skill set. Have your HR team include questions that help gauge each candidate’s personality, communication skills, leadership style, and how they work as part of a team. These questions should be included in both the candidate interview and the external reference check. When transitioning to a healthier culture, focus on those who fill both skill and culture gaps.

#7 Be Transparent

A lack of transparency erodes trust, and without trust you can’t have a strong company culture. Even if what you have to share is a major change, your team shouldn’t be left in the dark. Many organizations keep things under wraps out of concern that it will spark chaos. However, the lack of transparency has a more detrimental ripple effect.

  • According to Forbes, 50% of employees feel that they and/or their organization are being held back by a lack of transparency.
  • According to Harvard Business Review, 70% of workers say that they’re most engaged in their job when senior management communicates openly with them.
  • Lack of transparency is found to negatively impact both retention and recruitment.

#8 Lead by Example

Whether good or bad, habits trickle down. Managers are the primary drivers of culture as they lead by example. Your role is to ensure that the example they are setting is one that drives your culture in the right direction. So, you must garner leadership buy-in and hold your leadership team accountable.

Clear, committed, open, and inclusive leadership is essential for building and maintaining strong company culture. A 2022 study by Global Culture Research Report reported that 81% of employees who considered their work culture to be poor have seen managers allow others to get away with inappropriate behaviors. In the same report, 90% of employees shared that their managers play a vital role in creating the microculture of their team.

 

#9 Praise Your Team

Recognition is a valuable part of making your team feel as if they are part of something bigger. This includes direct praise, group praise, and company-wide recognition. Don’t just praise the big wins and measurable success. For example, if a team member brainstormed an excellent idea that you didn’t move forward with—praise their out-of-the-box thinking. Your team member will appreciate the recognition and the praise will help to keep the ideas flowing.

Praising your team should include a designated recognition program, but the day-to-day praise adds more value.

Conclusion

Creating a strong company culture won’t occur overnight. It requires intention, commitment, and ongoing evaluation. Once established, it will need to evolve as your organization evolves. Although it’s a significant investment in time and resources, it builds the team required to drive innovation.

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