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21 Sep 2015

8 Steps to Building Company Culture Purposefully

When we ask, “What is organizational culture?” company culture is a form of organizational culture. Companies formed to do business. Building company culture focuses on people so they can do business better.

That means influencing the minds and hearts of people. It is easy to spend too much time on mission statements, systems, processes and procedures. Emotion not logic allows us to make decisions. Relationships not rules move people. Studies show this.

The Platform for Building Company Culture

Managers drive culture on the ground. In very large firms, they receive support from an internal communications department. In small firms, this is the human resources professionals. The platform for building company culture purposefully is communication and relationships.

The platform influences. It sells. It motivates. The principles of marketing, selling and advertising apply. We just apply them internally. Managers market the culture.

Building Company Culture on the Platform

When we build on our platform for culture, we start with a simple culture statement describing that culture. We keep it under 30 words. We include key attributes.

Imagine a pile of chains. To move it we do not need to move each link separately. We find a link and pull. It will bring the other links along. Key attributes are like these links. They will pull other attributes with them. Ones that are related. We do not need to capture everything.

From this statement, we identify three to five keywords. These will be the attributes we want in our culture. A way to get these is to:

  1. Begin with 20 adjectives that describe the culture.
  2. Form them into 3-5 groups.
  3. Find a representative name for each group.
  4. Make these names your keywords.

The culture statement and the keywords form our platform. Managers emphasize themes from them in communications. It works the same as any external marketing or branding plan.

Managers become the sales force in building company culture.

Emotion not logic, relationships not rules are the keys to building company culture.

Managing the Building of Company Culture

Managing on this platform begins with the leader. Someone from internal communications or human resources can help. Outside advisors can too. The leader does these four steps:

  1. Identify 3-5 regular actions that represent each attribute.
  2. Help reports do the same with their jobs.
  3. Recognize and reward actions in their areas that fulfill these attributes.
  4. Ensure reports repeat 1-3 with their areas and reports.

When employees do things that represent these attributes, it is key to recognize and reward them. This can be done in front of other employees. It can be done one-on-one too.

To recognize and reward, managers need to know how to leverage relationships in communications and in group settings. They will use themes from the culture statement and keywords.

They need to be on message about the culture just as a sales force would be with products and services. How managers do this to tap their relationships with their employees is key to building a company culture.

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