Build a Business, Not a Job

7 Ways to Shape the Culture of Your Company

David Finkel

December 15th, 2016 12:18 pm

Following up on my earlier article on five concrete steps to begin to create your company culture, here are seven simple ways to reinforce and build the company culture you want.

1. Get clear on your goals and priorities. Your company culture needs to absorb what you consider most important – your company’s priorities and objectives. As obvious as it sounds, many companies simply don’t convey – clearly and effectively – what the business’s priorities actually are.

2. Celebrate victories and behavior in alignment with your core values and brand immediately.
Highlight the great behavior; celebrate the story of the success. The closer you make the celebration to the behavior the more you reinforce the desired value. Over time it is these small steps that accumulate into your culture.

Send out a company-wide email retelling the story of the victory.

Highlight it at a meeting. (Up the ante by creating a memorable physical totem or symbol of this victory, one that you can pass on to the next person to celebrate the next victory.)

Stand up and gather everyone’s attention in the office for a standing ovation (or bow down to the excellence that your team member showed – literally!)

You get the idea – reinforce key behaviors that you want other people to internalize.

3. Look for small stories that symbolize deeper meaning.
You don’t need to only highlight victories. Instead, also look for small occurrences in the company that symbolize deeper values you want the company to absorb.

For example, if you want to build a culture wherein your team goes above and beyond to meet deadlines and keep its commitments, and you see that Susan stayed late on Wednesday and Thursday nights to make sure she hit a key deadline that Friday, then make sure you publically applaud and thank her for it.

This is how culture gets built and transmitted – through small behaviors that you highlight and retell.

4. Role model the behavior you want your team to internalize. If you aren’t consistent with what you’re asking them to do, they’ll spot it in an instant and you’ll lose all credibility.

5. Use tough, emotional moments as examples of how serious your company is to live its goals and priorities. A tough decision in alignment with your company values and priorities will have more impact on your real culture than any dozen “easy” moves you make.

6. Start from the point of recruitment – bring your values and culture front and center into your hiring, selection, and orientation of new team members.
Build into your hiring process checks for personality and values fit with your company’s. Make sure that when you bring on a new hire that explaining the company values isn’t just a 10 minute talk, but it is something you share by having multiple people share stories and experiences to make those values and the culture real.

7. Accept that for most companies, building culture is a long, slow process of applying gentle pressure – relentlessly. Stay the course.