3 Core Principles of Successful Company Culture

Though I haven’t been in the workforce for a long time, I feel like I already know how integral culture is to the success of a company.

Culture is such a finicky concept; you know when it’s good or bad but not how to cultivate or change it. Culture cannot be forced on employees; it has to grow organically from every facet of the company.

So how do you cultivate the right culture? Let me walk you through a couple of personal workplace culture experiences I’ve had so far and what I have taken from them. And if you’re still interested in growing the right culture, check out our upcoming webinar with Greenleaf Trust about finding the right talent for not only the job but your company’s culture.

Bring everyone together

I didn’t really have any expectations of (or really consider) company culture but looking back on it, there was something not quite right – I don’t remember everyone all together at any point. There weren’t quarterly lunches or happy hours for everyone to let loose and hang out with people they might not see every day of the week.

This made it hard for people to feel like they were part of a bigger company or ecosystem because the only people they regularly saw or connected with were the ones that sat next to them.

Employees need the gratification that what they do on a daily basis is adding value to the company to validate themselves and what they’re doing. Having biweekly stand up meetings, quarterly lunches and even a happy hour every once and a while with all hands on deck helps employees feel like they’re an integral part of the bigger picture.

Figure out your goals, communicate them well and abide by them

My second internship was incredible. The job was fun, the company’s products were a hobby of mine and I got to travel around the country. However, even though there were only four people at the company, we definitely had culture issues. All four of us worked in different ways and had different goals for what we were doing. My job was to come in and work on projects that had long term contributions to the company, where as everyone else dealt in the day to day. This made clashing or misunderstandings very easy. It took a revamp on communication of goals to really pull everyone back together.

Great culture is all about finding like-minded individuals who value and share common goals; who also understand the work everyone is doing to reach those goals. At Dominion, we have biweekly stand up meetings where we all communicate what each department is up to. This makes sure no one feels like they have no idea what’s going on in the company they work for.

“Just figure out what your personal values are then just make those the corporate values.”  

- Tony Hsieh Zappos CEO

That is one of my favorite quotes about culture from one of the industry leaders in incredible company culture and it leads into my first full time job.

My first full time career position had great people and great goals but I don’t think everyone shared the same values. There was no universal thought to guide how every department approached what they did for the company. Sales sold with no regard for what they were selling, product development developed randomly and customer support just held on for the ride.

That company ended up selling their technology to a larger company and while not everyone’s values always lined up, it was an awesome experience with a great group of people.

Bottom line, when I think about core principles of successful culture, I think of togetherness, shared/well communicated goals and shared/well communicated values.

I had a professor for an entrepreneurship class in college who would always say that everyone is not a business’s target market or customer (unless you make toilet paper). Most companies have a small, specific, niche market they have the opportunity to excel in. I feel the same way about how companies should run their hiring. You should not want everyone to work for you, you want the candidates that are the most talented and fit the best with your culture.