“Culture” has become a buzzword. You hear it all the time, thrown around without much thought. You know that culture is more than cool perks like game rooms, laid back environments, and casual dress codes. But it can be hard to define clearly.
In her book “Fear Less,” Dr. Pippa Grange states:
“But we make culture every day, you and I and everyone
from what we tolerate and ignore, resist, and reward.”
The truth is that culture is an outcome of thousands of choices and decisions made by people in your workplace and enforced or allowed by leadership. Everything you do (or don’t do) has a direct impact on the culture within your organization.
A good culture attracts talent, fosters innovation, and increases loyalty from your team. A negative culture kills creativity, morale, and your bottom line. Are you intentionally crafting the culture you want, or are you settling for the culture that emerges?
Whether you want to reframe the current culture or build on a solid foundation, we’ve compiled these strategies for you to start building a vibrant company culture.
10 Culture Building Strategies
1. Define Your Core Values
A flourishing company culture starts with a clear set of core values. These values are the guiding principles that define your organization's identity.
Think of your values as what you do to live out your mission. Values are the behaviors your team exhibits as they work toward a common goal. Clearly articulating and implementing these values will help in making decisions, setting expectations, and cultivating the desired culture.
Your core values should reflect your beliefs, priorities, and the aspirations you have for your business. Whether it's integrity, innovation, or customer-centricity, these values should be woven into every aspect of your organization - from hiring to daily operations.
2. Lead by Example
As an entrepreneur, you’re the face of your organization. Your behaviors serve as the model for your employees. If you want a culture of integrity, accountability, and dedication, you must lead by example. Your actions and decisions should consistently align with the core values you've defined for your business.
Remember, your employees are taking cues from you. By embodying the culture you want to foster, you set the tone for the entire organization.
3. Involve Your Team
The culture of your organization is fluid. It shifts with decisions, changes, and relationships. Each new addition to the team impacts your culture.
You’re ultimately responsible for the impact of the culture, but building it is a team effort. Involving your employees in the process is critical and provides a sense of ownership among the team.
This can include holding open forums, conducting surveys, reviewing values, and encouraging positive behaviors you want to see. Actively involving your employees shows them they are valued and will help them be invested in the culture-building process.
The act of involving your team is culture-building in itself. It also engages employees in the process of creating the environment they want to be part of.
4. Prioritize Employee Well-being
A thriving culture places the well-being of employees at its core. You can start with wellness programs, flexible work arrangements, and opportunities for professional development. And take into consideration how you can also support the mental health of your team.
Happy, engaged employees are more productive and contribute positively to the culture and outcomes of the organization. Creating an environment that encourages employees to maintain a healthy life will boost morale, increase job satisfaction, and reduce turnover.
5. Recognize and Reward Success
Recognition and rewards play a pivotal role in shaping your culture. Employees that hear the words “thank you” are more likely to trust those they work with. Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of your employees. This can be through monetary rewards, promotions, or even a simple thank you for a job well done. Be creative in how you celebrate success together.
Encourage your team members to recognize and celebrate the work of others. By appreciating one another, you reinforce the behaviors and values you want to see more of. Recognition motivates employees and creates a culture of positivity and appreciation.
6. Encourage Innovation & Learning
Innovation is key to staying competitive in today's ever-evolving business landscape. Foster a culture of innovation by giving employees the freedom to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them.
Create a safe space for ideas to be shared and explored. Encourage collaboration and cross-functional teams to spark creativity. Encourage continuous learning within your organization, and make development opportunities available as often as possible.
7. Promote Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Human Resources thought leader Anthony Paradiso states, “When people feel excluded, they lose their originality.” Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are non-negotiables in the modern business landscape. A diverse and inclusive culture fosters creativity, empathy, and a broader perspective. Prioritize this by implementing inclusive hiring practices, diversity training, and creating an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.
An inclusive culture encourages different viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds to come together and drive your business forward. It not only mirrors the diversity of the world but also attracts a wider talent pool.
8. Communicate Clearly and Set Expectations
Open and transparent communication is fundamental for building trust and a positive culture. Keep your employees informed about company developments, challenges, and successes. Encourage open dialogue and provide opportunities for feedback. Transparency helps reduce uncertainty and builds a sense of belonging.
Well-defined expectations and goals ensure that everyone is on the same page. Employees should understand their roles and responsibilities, as well as the company's objectives. This clarity empowers employees to take ownership of their work and contribute to the overall culture.
9. Empower and Delegate
Don't fall into the trap of micromanaging. Empower your employees by delegating responsibilities and giving them the autonomy to make decisions within their roles. Trust your team to deliver results and encourage them to take initiative. This is a phenomenal practice that will foster a culture of accountability and is a pathway for professional growth.
When your team feels empowered and equipped to take initiative, the outcome is a culture where they feel trusted, valued, and confident.
10. Measure and Adjust
Periodically assess the effectiveness of your culture-building efforts. Use surveys, feedback, and key performance indicators to gauge the impact of your culture on employee engagement and business results. Be open to making necessary adjustments and improvements.
Understanding your culture's impact will help you in your efforts to improve over time. Your willingness to adapt as the business evolves is a foundational element in creating a culture you and your team are proud of.
Creating a thriving company culture is an ongoing journey. It requires dedication and adaptability. It isn’t something you set and forget.
Your company is already impacted by culture, whether positive or negative. Your commitment to consciously building a thriving culture is an important investment in your people, your business, and your future. Start today - make the changes you need to nurture the culture you want.