Hello Culture. Nice to Meet You!

Your company has a personality and it's called the culture. Culture is a lived experience that includes what people see, hear, say and do every day. A company's culture helps employees understand how their values align with those of the organization and the behaviors they can use to bring each value to life to fulfill the company's purpose. Read on for tips on how to take your culture's pulse, how to make culture real to employees by using specifics and best practices for communicating culture to employees throughout the organization.

Research shows that cultivating a high-performance culture is good for business.

  • Consider recruiting and retaining talent: About 46 percent of job seekers cite company culture as very important when choosing to apply to a company, and 47 percent pinpoint culture as the reason they're leaving.

  • Culture positively impacts revenue with high-performing cultures earning four times as much revenue as those with low-performing ones.

Consider These Cultural Best Practices for Your Organization

Take Your Culture's Pulse

  • Talk with leadership to ensure you are aligned with their perspective about the culture. Ask how they believe the culture and the values currently support the business? Which values will play a crucial role in the next few months and years? Will any values need to be evolved or added as the business grows?

  • Refer to recent surveys or conduct a new one to understand how employees feel. If technology or geography limits your ability to conduct a survey for all employees, then consider interviewing a cross-section of employees across the organization. Ask the same questions to each employee so some of the information can be quantified and then follow up with additional questions to dive deeper for qualitative feedback.

  • Review existing materials. What materials do you have the speak specifically to the culture of the organization? How is the culture positioned within major initiatives and projects? Is it an afterthought? Or is it positioned as an asset that drives business results? Also, outdated materials and photography that do not reflect your organization detract from your cultural messaging.

Make it real by sharing specifics.

  • Identify and share desired behaviors that employees can use to demonstrate each value. When employees understand this, they are able to understand the actions they can take to make a difference. This understanding can make work more meaningful and rewarding.

  • Encourage employees to apply their talents and strengths. Your employees already demonstrate your values and desired behaviors to some degree. Ask employees to reflect on where they excel and to amplify their efforts in that area. This helps provide employees with a path to apply their talent to their work in a productive way. When employees understand where and how they can use their strengths to be successful, they are more likely to be engaged in the business and go the extra mile for team members and customers.

Develop a communications plan that engages employees throughout the organization.

  • Make culture visible to employees. What they see each day matters. What do employees see as they walk in the door? Whether in a plant or office setting or working remotely, on-site communications and/or intranet messaging reinforce culture. The presence of cultural branding signals to employees the value the company places on the culture and employees.

  • Provide managers with toolkits for each value. Create toolkits with materials and messaging that managers can use to talk about values and behaviors and share with employees. Some managers are comfortable talking about culture and others are not. If managers have not talked about culture before, it could feel daunting and unauthentic for them to suddenly work it into conversation. Providing managers with information also helps them identify opportunities to talk about culture in a way that's authentic.

  • Provide resources and tools for managers and employees to recognize each other. Recognition is a powerful way to make people feel good about their contributions and promote behaviors that you'd like team members to replicate. Provide managers with the training and tools they need to coach and provide positive feedback to direct reports. Also enable peers to recognize other peers for demonstrating desired behaviors.

  • Engage leadership in communicating culture in a way that makes maximum use of their time for the greatest impact. If your company has clearly defined values but leadership never talks about or demonstrates them, then neither will anyone else. A mix of approaches can make their support visible to employees: 1) organically use examples of values and behaviors whenever talking about business initiatives, projects and goals, 2) share a video about the value of culture, giving all employees access to it 3) talk often with their direct reports (top-tier leadership) about the importance of being a role model for the culture and 4) support cultural training for managers and/or all employees.