Tips for Creating a Corporate Culture

I write and speak often on the importance of fostering a culture of appreciation, creating a work environment in which employees want to engage. An excellent article in Kelly Service's Smart Manager recently offered “10 Ways to Create a Corporate Culture.” I’ll highlight just three key steps to creating that culture of appreciation:
Publicly focus on the people, not the technology. As much as innovative technology can help employees excel, many remain wary. They often become uncomfortable or even fearful that state-of-the-art technology will make their jobs and themselves expendable. By focusing on your staff and their contributions, emphasizing that technology is simply a tool to help them, most employees feel a much stronger “connection” to the company.

Publicly recognize employee performance, milestones, birthdays, etc. Don’t wait for major accomplishments to celebrate. Acknowledge all milestones, big and small. Your staff will not only appreciate these gestures personally, but they will tell their friends and potential future employees, too.

Install non-financial benefit items that improve corporate culture. Personal days, caring for a sick family member days, employee-of-the-week (month, quarter, and year) awards, more prestigious workplace conditions, etc. prove to generate a positive effect on corporate culture and employee loyalty.”

I plan in the new year to write a good deal more on managing company cultures, but for now, my additions to these thoughts would be to clarify that it’s important to publicly focus on the people, period. Your greatest competitive advantage is your people – their innovation, their effort, their attitude – not the latest technological enhancement. Be sure they know that. Also, acknowledge all stellar efforts, big and small. Sometimes it is the seemingly minor (but well done) contribution of a lower-level employee that makes the rest of the work a success.

What would you add to a list of how to create a positive, appreciative, engaging corporate culture?

4 comment(s):

At December 09, 2009 8:37 AM, working girl said...

No, not birthdays! Is nothing sacred?

At December 09, 2009 10:28 AM, Derek Irvine said...

Working Girl -- what is your preference? For birthdays to be recognized in the office or not?

This is one of the many controversies -- some like to have cake, a group sing, etc., others deplore it.

The bottom line is no different than with more formal recognition of performance, behavior and effort -- know your employee! Do not force what is unwanted on someone or your effort at "appreciation" actually becomes strongly demotivating and even hurtful.

At December 09, 2009 1:54 PM, Anonymous said...

I see these as positive climate building activities, not deep seated organizational initiatives that over a long period of time will build a culture that is strategically appropriate. These are good, but culture to me suggests much more than simply how are you treating the troops??

robert edward cenek

At December 09, 2009 2:52 PM, Derek Irvine said...

Ah, Robert, you bring up an excellent point, and I invite you to stay tuned to much more coming from us on culture and culture management in the next several months.

In the meantime, I would say your "troops" are the very foundation of your culture. You can define whatever kind of culture you want, but it is how your employees (at all levels) work and behave every day that is your REAL culture. Therefore, how you "treat your troops" very much creates, supports and furthers your culture.