We are a certified Continuing Education provider for

HRCI Logo
SHRM Logo

If you are Looking for the Tools to Define, Communicate, and Sustain your Company’s Culture you’ve Come to the Right Place.

One of the biggest challenges with discussing Company Culture is it means so many things to so many people and there are many types of company culture.

Imagine you asked one of your friends to tell you about their “company culture”-- what would they say?  

"We work hard and we play hard…"

"We really care about people…"

"We value professionalism and everybody tries their best to do the right thing…"

"Honestly I couldn’t tell you.  It’s just a job for me..."

The task of synthesizing your company’s mission, values, and “vibe” succinctly so you can be confident each individual in your organization is on the same page can feel daunting.  We can’t do all the soul searching work for you and your team, but we’ve created a roadmap so you don’t have to re-invent a sound process.

Define your Culture

Whatever the culture is today in your organization, it is solely your baby. You created it. Either you worked hard to to cultivate a good company culture, or you mistakenly thought it would create itself automatically in your own image. Either way, here are a few tips on addressing it.

First, define the values you want your employees to embody

Do you just need to memorialize the way your company already operates?  Or do you need to “right the ship” by formally communicating values that have slipped away with time?  Whatever the case, compile a list of values you see as the heartbeat of the company.  Challenge yourself to go beyond nice sounding ideas like “Teamwork” or “Integrity”, and honestly assess what ideas resonate deeply with the mission and direction of your company.  You may find the deeply resonant ideas are also nice sounding, but don’t cheat your company by settling too quickly. 

Ground abstract concepts in concrete examples

Saying one of your core values is “Accountability” is great, but what does that look like?  Think of times when a team member humbly owned a mistake or on the flip side, think of times when a team member continually pointed the finger at everyone but themselves.  Make the values actionable for your employees to better grasp the concepts.

Evaluate your environment

Are employees grinding all day long during busy season, or do you have a very relaxed workday throughout the entire year? Does your office have an open layout or do employees have offices based on title? Does the leadership team model engaging socially about life outside work or sticking to business related topics?  Again, these things define the experiences of your employees and will help you find the right fit.

How to Communicate Culture

Once you’ve defined it, you need to decide how to explain your company culture.  You want to make sure that each individual working for your company is aligned with your culture and that new folks you hire have clear expectations.

Communicating Internally

The goal is for all employees to be able to concisely reiterate what the company’s values and culture is, as easily as telling you what their manager’s name is.  Here are some good ways to solidify those things in their minds:

Embed culture and value statements throughout the onboarding process.

No matter how small your company, you must take the time to educate your people. It is not enough for them to know what your product is and how it’s sold. Their education is incomplete until you’ve shared with them the values you and your teammates hold in esteem.  They need to know, then observe those values in action until they catch the values bug. It gets easier when people buy in from the start, they begin to teach others the company code and then the culture begins to solidify.

Give shoutouts to team members for modeling values.

It is important that company values are always discussed. In every meeting and in most interactions with team members you can always tie business activity back to your core values. For example you receive a glowing letter from a customer. One of your core values is 110% customer service all the time. You can use this as an opportunity to both praise the individual and remind everyone about your core values.

Gamify or incentivize mastering and internalizing values

Make it fun and/or rewarding to know the company values and mission by heart!  Have pop quizzes during team meetings and give out $10 gift cards to a coffee shop to people who can talk through the values spur of the moment.

Use Company Culture to Promote and/or Narrow Job Applicants

Make sure people are being promoted because they are strong cultural ambassadors and are competent to achieve in the new role.  When somebody has earned a promotion because of his adherence to the company value system let everybody know. When somebody is unable or unwilling to toe the company value line and must be redeployed outside the company, let your people see that too. By demonstrating the advantages and disadvantages of being a team player is the best example of all.

Don’t lie about your company culture in order to attract candidates. You want employees who share your overall goals and attitudes. Scoring a big name or someone with an impressive resume by misrepresenting your business will leave you with an unhappy and potentially very expensive employee.

Here are few ways you can spread the word about your company and all that is has to offer:

Glassdoor.com

Your website

As unemployment rates have jumped and wage competition rises, having a powerful statement about your culture disseminated by real team members is key. If you are worried about poor reviews then you should consider finding out why. The bottom line is the dissenters are always more likely to post on these sites and the happiest need a little nudging. For smaller organizations this is a great way to make a big impact on your recruiting efforts.

Communicating Externally

Use your website to highlight your company’s culture. You may want to have a page specifically covering the topic or simply include statements from leading individuals and employees. These should be related to your company’s mission or to the work environment you strive for. Appropriate images, including pictures of employees, can add a sense of sincerity and help convey your message.

Videos and social media

Once thought of as an essentially personal and somewhat frivolous platform, social media is now used by every top company. Even users who don’t engage with you regularly will see your company name more often. Social media presents an opportunity to reach a greater audience and advertise your company culture in a way that may lead candidates to seek you out. Share photos or give employees a chance to participate, by posting their favorite things about working at your company.

Similarly, short videos can allow you to promote your company and its culture in a more visually engaging way. Videos could be strictly informative, feature interviews with employees, or showcase a company event.

Job postings

Take advantage of job postings and include some brief notes about your business, such as a mission statement. However, if you want to highlight company culture, ensure that you actually do so. Simply stating that you aim to be #1 in your industry won’t distinguish you from competitors. Instead, mention that your organization is team-oriented or a place to compete and stand out, if constant innovation is your focus or if you keep clients by staying loyal to your traditions.

Job fairs and other events

Job fairs and community events are a great chance to let potential hires learn about your company culture. It presents an opportunity to talk with potential candidates who want to submit their resumes without having to go through an interview. Those who attend on behalf of your company will be able to present image and answer questions, filtering out people who may be incompatible before the hiring process begins. Having non HR employees at these events can allow potential candidates ask everyday employees about the day in a life at some at your company.

Recruiters

If you use outside recruiters, give them the information they need to know to answer candidates’ basic questions about your company culture. You can get access to a comprehensive guide here.  They may also be able to identify better applicants if they are aware of your organization’s style and goals.

Advertising your company culture can increase the likelihood of a talented and desirable candidate choosing your business. It can also improve the chances that the type of employees you are looking for will come to you, allowing you better options when it comes to choosing your next hire.

How to Assess your Culture

There are a few ways to measure company culture, and you’ll probably find that some combination of these works best for your organization:

  • Interviews: Have one-on-one conversations with employees from throughout the company to determine their level of job satisfaction and what the organization as a whole might improve upon. Compare interview responses to look for patterns and trends.
  • Focus groups: This is a way to save time if you have a lot of employees to speak with, but be aware that not everyone may feel comfortable speaking out in a group setting.
  • Surveys: A more anonymous way to collect feedback, but does not provide the opportunity for employees to engage directly with you or with each other throughout the evaluation process.

No matter what assessment method you choose don’t forget about remote workers if you have them. They might not be in the office every day, but they absolutely contribute to your company and its culture.

Presenting the Assessment

No matter what method you choose to assess company culture, you need to share the results you receive broadly — no matter how positive or negative the outcome might be.

If employees see a final report or presentation that appears overly sanitized or only highlights positive aspects of company culture, they might feel like their concerns are not being taken seriously or that the organization does not value change.

You don’t need to make your presentation as elaborate as the national State of the Union address, but it should be an event that employees are encouraged to attend, perhaps with food or held off site.

The forum itself might also invite the opportunities for employees to share ideas and begin an ongoing conversation about shaping a culture that everyone in the organization can get behind.

Presenting the Assessment

No matter what method you choose to assess company culture, you need to share the results you receive broadly — no matter how positive or negative the outcome might be.

If employees see a final report or presentation that appears overly sanitized or only highlights positive aspects of company culture, they might feel like their concerns are not being taken seriously or that the organization does not value change.

You don’t need to make your presentation as elaborate as the national State of the Union address, but it should be an event that employees are encouraged to attend, perhaps with food or held off site.

The forum itself might also invite the opportunities for employees to share ideas and begin an ongoing conversation about shaping a culture that everyone in the organization can get behind.

Keep Developing your Company Culture

If your own corporate culture is teetering on the brink, gnashing your teeth is not the answer. Even strong charismatic leaders can fail to inspire and create loyalty among their employees if there are bad-hires among them. The chameleons are very clever and, perhaps even more so in this wobbly economy. No matter how careful you’ve been, you may be sure there are, indeed, bad hires in your group. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Fortunately for entrepreneurs like you who are committed to achieving the dream, there’s help available. Read more on developing and reinforcing company culture then create a game plan for it’s execution. A little focus on this important aspect of your business will go a long way.

We offer several tools to assist you and your leadership team to prevent these bad hires. Check out our eBook “Hiring Talented Team Players.” Using a well-structured selection process in conjunction with a powerful attitude and behavioral assessment tools like our IC and SL Behavioral assessments can help you combat these problem generators.