By Tino Mantella
TLG President & CEO
Getting one’s arms around a word like “culture” is difficult, if not impossible. Indeed.com defines work culture as “a collection of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in a work environment. Healthy workplace cultures align employee behaviors and company policies with the overall goals of the company, while also considering the well-being of individuals.” A company’s culture plays a large role in determining the overall fit of an employee in a new position, and how they might interact with others. An employee’s outlook, work-life balance, advancement, and engagement can all hinge on the culture of the company.
Every company has a culture, even if it’s cultureless (and that becomes the culture). Recruitment and retention have emerged as leading factors in today’s “quiet quitting” environment, and although hiring and retaining talent is clearly important, those shouldn’t be the driving factors of building a culture. So that begs the question of WHY build an exemplary culture and HOW do you do it?
There are many reasons related to the “WHY” of building an exemplary culture. According to Forbes, “A strong culture, that fosters teamwork, community, and inclusivity increases engagement exponentially. Companies with a robust culture have up to 72% higher employee engagement than those whose cultures are misaligned or need improvement. Happy employees, who get fulfillment from their jobs, work harder.” Therefore, companies with happy employees can better optimize their contribution to society.
The “HOW” to build a cohesive and formidable culture is much harder than the WHY. Companies, from startups to enterprises, understand that good cultures are better than bad cultures. Most organizations never achieve sustainable excellence in maintaining a culture that most of their employees embrace.
Factors for Creating a Strong Work Culture
One doesn’t have to go far to find countless books on culture, so I will leave the full dissertation on “culture” to the experts. That being said, allow me to share, from my experience, some key factors related to building a culture that is embraced by the majority of employees. In my opinion, these factors contribute to the creation of a strong culture:
- Have a company purpose beyond the bottom line that everyone in the organization can easily understand and embrace.
- Be transparent in respect to sharing wide-ranging information about the organization.
- Be consistent and fair in all decision-making.
- Endorse and live by the philosophy that leadership is a choice and not a position.
- Celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of others.
- Accept a degree of failure as part of learning while celebrating true effort.
- Obtain a balance between respect and responsibility, demonstrated by Turknett Leadership Group’s (TLG) Leadership Character Model.
- Give employees a chance to engage in personal and team development.
- Help employees see their path to advancement.
- Balance structure and flexibility.
- Encourage and support employee wellness, including mental health.
Cultures of Leadership Character
At TLG, we believe the most successful cultures have leadership character as their foundation. “When it comes to culture, I believe that the fundamental balance of respect and responsibility has to be in every action we take,” explains Lyn Turknett, Co-founder of TLG. “It’s hard to hire people and focus on retention, but then the pendulum swings, and we don’t care about it as much. The cultures that last and the most successful companies financially with people who want to be there are the cultures that carry the balance of respect and responsibility.”
I have had the privilege of serving as a CEO for more than three decades and have experienced many failures and successes along the way. Related to culture, there is what you read about and what happens in real life. Real-world issues are more challenging because we are all dealing with people who are all different, so what motivates one can turn off others. As a reminder, building your company’s culture is a marathon, not a sprint.