CEO Corner

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4 Tactics to Help Build a Strong, Sustainable Organizational Culture

By: Graham Weihmiller
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    CEO Corner

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    Graham Weihmiller

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You may wonder what companies like Zappos, Google and Twitter all have in common? Perhaps even more than their products, these companies are known for their thriving and coveted corporate cultures. In my opinion, having a great culture is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a necessity in order for your organization to be effective in the long-term and to attract top talent. In today’s world, many job seekers are looking first and foremost at an organization’s culture, sometimes prioritizing it even above traditional benefits like salary and vacation.

So how do you create a strong organizational culture that stands out?

Create a culture that aligns with your core values. Your culture is what you do and say, the way you behave, the way you treat each other, your customers or members, and your community. In essence, it’s your company’s “personality.”

Defining your culture, starts with outlining your Core Values, your mission and your vision.  Once you know what you want to be known for, it’s important to communicate this both internally and externally, and to live out your organizational values each and every day. Then, over time, your culture will develop.

Make culture everyone’s responsibility. As a leader, you’re responsible for setting the tone within your organization. Reward employees who advance your culture, and be transparent with those who do not. Create rituals with your team that help foster collaboration, for example, consider welcome lunches for new hires, monthly birthday celebrations, monthly all-staff meetings or quarterly strategy sessions. It’s important to note culture isn’t something that you can just put in place, and expect that it remain forever. You’ll need to nurture it. And it will evolve, as your organization evolves.

Hire for fit. People really do make your company’s culture. If you hire the right people, your culture will thrive. Look for candidates whose personalities and attitudes fit your culture. When interviewing candidates, ask questions that directly relate to your culture and Core Values. For example, at BNI® our culture is based on Givers Gain®, meaning we believe the more you give, the more you’ll receive. So, we may ask a candidate: “Tell me about a time when you’ve helped another person succeed, either professionally or personally.  In what way was this meaningful to you?” This allows us to see how the candidate has given his or her time or talent to aid in another person’s success, something that is important to us an organization. Here are several additional tips on how to attract top talent and supercharge your team.

Express your culture. No matter the size of your organization, think about how to convey your culture to the outside world. Ideally, everything from the design of your office space, to the way your employees interact with your customers or members, to the appearance of your marketing materials should express your organization’s culture.

If you’re asking yourself, “But is culture really that important?” Or perhaps you’re wondering, “As a small company, do I need to worry about culture?” The answer is yes. You have the unique opportunity to shape your culture, set expectations and define who you want to be. As Dr. Misner, BNI’s Founder and Chief Visionary Officer often says, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” No matter how good your strategy is, when it comes down to it, people always make the difference in your organization’s long-term success.

Perhaps more than nearly any other organization, BNI is a culture-driven organization. In nearly 8,000 chapters across 73 countries, all of us are led by a rich 32-year old set of traditions and a singular focus on our guiding philosophy, Givers Gain.®