How to Define Your Company’s Culture

Company culture is everything. It’s the biggest factor in maintaining success and retaining your top employees.

Use the New England Patriots and the Cleveland Browns as a comparison. The Patriots are the epitome of stability and success: They have a strong organizational culture from the top-down. The same executives, coaches, and players have remained with the team for years, and they’re always in contention for the Super Bowl. The Browns are the complete opposite (sorry Browns fans)—they’ve had a revolving door of coaches and executives, struggle to acquire top players, and haven’t had a winning season in over ten years.  

Just like in sports, long-term success in the corporate world starts with a healthy company culture. But before you can achieve that, you need a clear definition of company culture: It’s the environment and personality of your organization, shaped by your mission, values, and goals. Company culture is a symbiotic relationship between employer and employees. It needs to be defined, but it also needs to develop organically.

Company culture is a symbiotic relationship between employer and employees. Click To Tweet

How do you strike this balance when developing your company culture? Here are four tips.

Take the Lead

Company culture definition starts at the top. Your CEO and executives need to provide guidance and clarity. Writing a clear mission statement that puts your company’s vision and core values into words is a key first step. Define your organization’s goals, set clear expectations and identify acceptable behaviors. Establishing these boundaries provides a framework in which your culture can continue to develop organically. Without boundaries, employees will begin to fill that leadership void and create/define a culture that is either nebulous, toxic, or doesn’t represent the company’s values and goals.

Quite simply, leaders need to answer the question: What does your company stand for? A clear answer is the easiest way to get everyone on the same page.

Be True to Your Word

Your company’s leaders need to embody your culture. Their behavior should model what is expected and appropriate, and that includes things like working remotely, dress codes, taking vacation time, answering emails on nights and weekends, etc. Again, seeing how leaders handle these procedures and policies will strengthen boundaries and provide culture clarity.

The organization also needs to operate with integrity. Your leaders’ actions need to match their words. If you say you have an open-door policy, then you need to truly have an open-door policy. Nothing breeds mistrust like saying one thing and doing another. And new employees will be able to tell right away if the culture that’s been advertised doesn’t match the real, day-to-day workplace environment. That mistrust can quickly lead to dissatisfaction and quick turnover.

Nothing breeds mistrust like saying one thing and doing another. Click To Tweet

Be Open to Ideas and Growth

The other half of the symbiotic relationship is employees. Executives provide a company culture definition, and employees bring that definition to life. Check in regularly with your employees to see what they like, what they don’t like, what they want to change. Ask for opinions and ideas, encourage employees to provide input on processes, major company decisions, all-hands meetings, company events—everything that affects daily life in the office. And then allow those ideas to shape how your culture develops and grows over time.

Company culture isn’t, and shouldn’t be, stagnant. It’s going to constantly evolve, just as the world evolves and changes. Both sides—leaders and employees—play an equally important role in building a healthy workplace culture.  

Company culture isn’t, and shouldn’t be, stagnant. Click To Tweet