How to Build a Culture

How To Build Company Culture

How to Build a Culture Within Your Organization


Involve Your Teams to Solidify Your Company Culture

I am a fan of Verne Harnish and recommend his book “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits”. It is truly one of the best examples of how to create a culture inside of your company. My comments will be a mixture of Mr. Harnish’ s examples found in his book, Jim Collin, Author of “Good to Great” and my own philosophy based on my experiences.

Mr. Harnish suggest starting come scratch and pretend you are visiting Mars and you have to articulate what is company culture to Martians. How would you start the conversation? They don’t speak English, use power point, and they aren’t tech savvy. Thus, how would you articulate your organizational culture to Martians?

Ask a significant portion of your organization to write down five positive characteristics/values that best present your company and include a person or persons who exemplify that trait. Let me pause for a second…. If you are a startup and only have a few employees, ask five or six of your best all-around employees. Release the pause button…. Compile the answers, and yes there should be hundreds of responses. And yes, it will take hours for you or the senior management team to review all of them. Start breaking them down into similar categories. Perhaps you can breakdown the characteristics into 10 maybe 15 groups. Now, select five to six people who were most often mentioned as great examples of the values/characteristics your associates admired the most and thought represented the best your company has to offer. Bring those people together and have them review the subgroups you have established. Walk them through what you want to achieve; you want to create a culture that is sustainable and create a culture of what best represents our company. Have them review the lists compiled and ask them to rate the ones they believe are the best values/characteristics that currently exists inside of the organization. Over time cull the list down to five or seven core values or characteristics.

Remember, there is a culture that already is pervasive within your organization. We want to take the best and have it resonated all of the time throughout the organization on every level 24-7.

Experience has taught me that a positive sustainable culture will have a long-term impact on retaining employees. This process is well worth the effort.”

Reward Those Who Exemplify Your Company Values

A second way to create a core culture is to create your own list of values and characteristics you believe should best represent the company and have your team start providing examples of people who demonstrate those values/characteristics. However, there is a culture already in place and if you don’t include your associates in the selection process it will be extremely difficult to change the behaviors and values that currently exist. Therefore, I don’t usually recommend such a process and believe the former model is much more likely to gain traction and long-term sustainability. The later process works best in startup organizations where urgency, creativity, and survival are the main goals of each day. The culture may not have yet nested within the company and there is an opportunity for the entrepreneur to build a culture he/she envisions the company should embrace.

Core cultures must be shared, honored, and celebrated every month and each quarter. In my former CEO role, we asked for employees to give verbal examples of people who demonstrated our core culture values at our monthly company meetings. Each quarter, we asked employees to write formal recommendations of associates exemplifying each core culture. Each quarter we would give away about $500 in cash. Nothing brings a smile to an employee quicker than to win a core culture nomination, receive $50, and recognition/applause from their peers. Lastly, the nominator receives $20 for the written effort articulating why he/she nominated the individual for that specific core culture value and how the individual demonstrated the value over the past quarter.

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