William Vanderbloemen, CEO, Vanderbloemen Search Group
If you want to have a great culture from top to bottom, you must eliminate any semblance of an “us and them” mentality.
Every company I’ve studied that has a great culture also has a leader living out that culture that is fully committed to it. These leaders pose questions to themselves regularly about what they are doing to maintain a healthy culture. They also tend to formalize their culture to ensure it is sustainable.
For example, Terry Nawrot, the chief operating officer at Informz, says that his company posts their values in the building, intentionally spreading culture demands making it a top priority.
Here are some practical tips to help instill a great company culture, from top to bottom:
Face time with everyone. At Informz, the CEO and the COO meet with every employee once a year. Even though they are not a huge organization, that commitment takes a lot of time. In addition, Informz managers have one-on-one meetings with team members twice a month.
Give a shout-out. Informz also makes sure to say thank you and good job to the people living out the cultural values rather than only affirming employees on hitting their numbers. As Informz has driven cultural values throughout the organization, employee complaint levels have gone down and positive feedback has gone up.
Show appreciation. At Informz, they also intentionally show appreciation to their team, like giving employees pizza and bagels to thank them for adopting a healthy culture and living it.
Hire well. If you’re hiring the right people, then you have likely defined your company culture, codified it, and spread it throughout your organization. You’re more likely to see people living out your company culture early on and without being asked or reminded.
For example, at my company Vanderbloemen Search Group, we prepare presentations for our clients. During our robust seasons, there’s a lot to do, and everyone stays extremely busy. On one occasion, a consultant asked if he could have an extra presentation for a client. That may seem like a minor request, but it’s actually a lot of work to put one together, and the person in charge of the packets had been with us two weeks.
Considering his workload, and with him being new to the job, I figured adding one more thing to his plate would put him over the top. Instead, he jumped right in and offered to get it done. When I see people proactively going beyond their job description in an effort to help their coworkers, their team, the company, and our clients, I see our culture at work.
Leaders must embody culture. Spreading culture is easier with a smaller, flatter organization with fewer layers, but regardless of the size of an organization or how it’s structured, everyone has to be on board with the culture. There can’t be a different set of rules for employees and management.
An irresistible company culture has no room for an us and them.
About the Author
William Vanderbloemen is an entrepreneur, pastor, speaker, author, and CEO/Founder of Vanderbloemen Search Group (VSG), an executive search firm that helps organizations find their key staff. VSG has been named four and three times to the top of Entrepreneur.com’s Top Company Cultures list of small businesses and Houston Business Journal Best Place To Work list, respectively. VSG recently was named to Houstonia’s 2017 Best Places to Work list and Forbes’ 2017 list of America’s Top Executive Recruiting Firms. Prior to his work in executive search, William led growth and innovation in several churches, including Houston’s oldest congregation, the First Presbyterian Church of Houston. His latest book, Culture Wins: The Roadmap to an Irresistible Workplace, is due out this spring.