How to Build the Culture You Want


Culture building is a hot topic in people management, and every CEO dreams of establishing and enjoying a positive, productive, strong organizational culture. After all, your culture is the foundation on which everything else rests. It can make or break you, and has an enormous influence over success.

Creating and sustaining the culture you want isn’t just about buzzwords and team-building activities. It’s about articulating and building on the core values of what your organization stands for.

Creating and sustaining the culture you want isn’t just about buzzwords and team-building activities.

Check in with your core values.

Culture needs to be more than a buzzword. It has to be embedded in everything you do, and how you do it. To build a strong culture, you need strong, articulated values that answer the questions: What does your organization stand for? Who are you and what do you do? And most importantly, how do you want to do it?

Define your values and what the culture you want to achieve looks like, and develop language to communicate where you’re headed. Build excitement around culture change, and seek input from employees at all levels of the organization to get buy-in. Consistent messaging is key here – if you haven’t defined what you’re working towards, odds are you won’t get there.

Hire for fit.

Hiring for fit doesn’t mean everyone in your organization needs to fit a certain cookie-cutter ideal. It means that you actively look for new hires who exhibit behaviours and values that align with the culture you want to nurture. Actively promote your employer brand and build your pipeline to attract candidates whose values are in sync with yours, and communicate your culture throughout the recruitment process so that candidates who aren’t on board can self-select out.

Promote the behaviour you want.

Creating the culture you want takes work. Strong, positive company cultures don’t just happen – it takes the conscious effort of your whole team working in the same direction. Where to start? Work with your strengths! Focus on the positive aspects of your culture, identify the things you want to see more of, and build on those. Encouraging the actions you want to see starts at the top – your leaders need to be the strongest representations of your organization’s values and model the culture you want to promote.

Keep momentum high by assigning someone to oversee culture development; while culture building shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of one person, designating a culture champion ensures you stay on track.

Discourage stagnation.

Cultural patterns can be hard to change, and entrenched company cultures aren’t always positive. Just because your culture is strong doesn’t mean it’s the one you want! Negative patterns and actions can cause stagnation, and bog organizations down in old ways of operating. Remain open to getting rid of “dead weight” by identifying and discouraging patterns, attitudes and behaviours that aren’t in line with the culture you’re working to build.

Your Engaged Assignment: What kind of culture do you want to build? If you haven’t done a culture check-in lately, now’s the perfect time to articulate what you’d like to see more of, and what may not be serving you well anymore!