Your Company Culture is Not Like a Holiday Puppy…

company cultureIt’s easy to understand why business leaders get excited about creating a great culture – the benefits are huge!

Strong culture leads to great employee engagement. It’s well documented that companies with better employee engagement enjoy oh-so-many dividends, including better productivity, innovation, customer experience, employee retention, profitability, safety, and work quality.

Not to mention that it’s a lot easier to recruit top talent in a tight labor market when your team is shouting from the rooftops about how amazing it is to work for you.

However, culture isn’t a ‘once in a while’ thing, and it’s not like an adorable puppy you get for Christmas. Culture isn’t ‘cute when it’s new,’ and then just kind of a pain in the neck the rest of the year.

Why not? Ummmm, please see above list of upsides – those are 365-days-a-year kinds of benefits! And, like that cute puppy, if your feed and water it properly, your culture will grow big and strong over time. Give it some love, and your culture will become your very best friend as a leader.

Fortunately, there are lots of not-so-hard ways to nurture your culture. An easy place to start is with your Mission, Vision and Values statements – they’re kind of like your road map.

Tell the truth: Do your Mission, Vision and Values statements live in a drawer somewhere, and yet your wonder why they’re not ‘working?’ It’s ok. These things happen. It’s easy to get back on track.

Here are three top, easy and painless tips for using your Mission, Vision, and Values to help you build and maintain an amazing culture.

Spoiler alert! None of them include ping pong tables and beer:

  1. Talk about them. In team meetings, with each other, in performance conversations. Use them as a way to talk about ‘why’ you do things the way you do.
  2. Use them. Once people understand your ‘why’ and what you stand for as a company, help your team to use them as decision-making criteria in their work. “Hmmm…should I do it this way or that way? We’ve got a value called ‘Customer First,’ so I think I’ll prioritize that piece of client work…”
  3. Hold your people accountable to them. (See #1 ‘Talk about them,’ above.) When a performance issue comes up, or a mistake happens, have a conversation about how using your values as a guardrail could have contributed to a better outcome.

Over time, your people will understand that ‘this is the way we do things around here,’ which is a strong starting point for building the culture you want – and need – to grow.

There’s another big plus to consistently communicating your values; it actually makes your job as a leader easier. Just like the decision-making criteria described for employees, the same is true for you.

  • Should we design the product this way or that?
  • Should we partner with this company or not?
  • How should we structure our teams?

The answers to all those endless questions can always be informed by why your company exists, and what it stands for. The sum total of all these decisions is, of course, your brand.

Just like your puppy doesn’t turn into a giant dog overnight, your values-driven culture also takes time to mature. The good news is, just like those daily trips to the dog park, the journey can be a whole lot of fun.


For more insights and strategies, register for the Elevating Employee Experience and Cultivating Workplace Culture conference, Nov. 6-7 in Nashville.

cultivating workplace culture

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