The 3 Ways to Improve Organizational Culture

By Sean Abbas on June 25, 2013

If someone asked you to improve your organizational culture today what would you do?  Schedule a team building exercise?  Add a new employee benefit?  Conduct a survey of your employees?  Hopefully you’re not in to trust falls.

While some of these things can increase employee satisfaction, none will have a meaningful impact on your organizational culture.  If you truly want to improve your culture you need to focus on the following 3 areas.  If you want to walk through this process for your own organization we have more information on Culture Defined with your management team.

#1:  Identify and Coach the People Damaging Your Culture


Who are the people in your organization that are doing damage to your culture right now?  Identify these people by name and come up with a plan of action for each person.  If you have the Bureaucrat undermining the latest company-wide initiative, develop a plan to communicate new expectations and change their behavior.  If the Maverick is making sales while contradicting the core values of your organization, sit down and have that difficult conversation.

Think about the negative impact these people are having on your culture.  They drain it.  Your people work with them every day and are watching how their leaders handle these situations.  When you address the people damaging your culture head-on, you organizational culture will strengthen immediately. 


#2:  Reward the People That Contribute to Your Culture


Who are the people in your organization that are making positive contributions to your culture?  Identify these people by name and come up with plans to recognize and reward them.  When you reward positive contributions to your organizational culture your culture strengthens.  You get more decision making in-line with the core values of your organization.  You get better results as people become more committed to your organization and its goals.

Think about the positive impact these specific people are having on your culture.  They build your culture ever day by how the conduct themselves.  Your people are watching when these people get promotions, achieve greater financial success and receive recognition.


#3:  Interview and Hire Based on Culture

Assessing an applicant’s skill set is straight forward.  Most organizations are good at making this determination.  To hire for culture though, you need to add your organization’s core values to the decision making process.

The organizations with the best cultures optimize their interviewing and hiring for cultural fit by finding the people who:

1.       Have the ability and skill set to produce results in the particular position.


2.       Are naturally wired to work according to the core values of the organization.

To determine if an applicant is wired with the core values of your organization you should focus on developing situational interview questions around each of your core values and creating a list of interviewers that includes the people who are the largest contributors to your culture.


In Plain Sight

You don’t need to search outside of your organization for ideas to improve your culture.  The best ideas to strengthen your culture involve leadership with the people you manage every day.  The Threads Blog will be exploring each of these ideas further in coming weeks.  If you have specific questions or topics you want covered just contact us