Thursday, 8 August 2013

Five Great Ways to build Culture

I perform a simple test in some of my Leadership workshops. 

To the group of  leaders sitting in the room, I  ask "On the piece of  paper in front of you, write the names of two organizations where you really enjoyed working and you get just 2 seconds to write".  And once they are done, I ask some of them to tell everybody why they loved to work there. 

Inevitably, what comes out  is the admiration of  the "Culture" of the organizations. 

As Leaders, we have to build the Culture of the organization. Culture is like Internal Branding.  Culture is built upon the Values , Mission and Vision of the organization. Culture binds the employees together and they feel themselves as  a part of a community. 

These are some great ways to build the Culture :

  •  Rituals :  In one of the organizations where I worked,  every project had their own "Team Cheer".  At the end of every meeting or gathering or celebration, the full team cheered together . I remember calling out "Hakuna Matata " (No worries) every time we had a meeting in one of my projects. When we said it together, we all smiled and felt geared up, cheerful and ready to take on the world ! Simple rituals like Monthly birthday parties, team huddles, burger parties builds a cult in the project and the organization. The best companies - Google,  Walmart, Dell have these rituals. 

  •  Values :   Most of the organizations have values. And most of the values are just a picture on the wall , near the reception area.  To build a culture, the first step is to create a solid set of  values for the organization. Something which the leadership believes in. Things which define the character of the organization.  The next and the most difficult step is to communicate the values and actually "live" them.  Talk about the values in all the gatherings, meetings, presentations, activities. Touch upon at least one facet of the values whenever you talk to your team.  Act according to the values so that your team can emulate you.

  • People  :  It is the employees who build an organization. So , to build the culture, we have to build them first.  Be paranoid about recruiting the best fit not only for the present but in the future too. Investment in employee development like organizing Leadership workshops,  team leading, team building sessions,  technical trainings etc. go a ,long way in building the culture of  learning in an organization.  The employees should be nurtured such that the culture is ingrained in their hearts and they it in the organization 

  •  Unique Story :  Every organization has its unique story. How it was started by five college friends with their savings in a garage. How they overcame the hurdles. These stories should be narrated at the appropriate time and gathering. These informal stories become a part of the culture and instills a sense of pride. 

  • Workplace Setup :  Many  organizations do not have any cubes. It shows "Open"culture. Why does Google let their software engineers decorate their own desks ? Yahoo now wants their employees to run into each other for better and more frequent interaction. So the way the office is designed impacts the behaviour and reinforces the values and the culture of the organization. 

So, do you want to architect the culture of your organization or your project ? 

Which ones from the above do you think you would like to  implement ? 


  1. Unique Story :)
    The Unique Story Has The great Effect On people , and in their own motivation , make them believe that everything is easy when they think it's easy

    and even it was hard to acheive but :

    If you were optimist as half as you think you are

    you'll acheive as twice as you think you would :)

  2. Thank you for this read, it runs many parallels with a course I have taken at the University of Nevada, Reno. The course is appropriately titled Advanced Organization Behaviour.