The Sharpening Stone: Think Culture First!

So have you ever received a question from someone – a colleague, a family member – “How’s it going at work?”, or “How’s your company doing?” ?  If I asked you right now, how would you answer that question?  Do you tend to think first of your fiscal year results, the new employees you added to the team, or the new clients/customers that you gained?  Well, What about the Culture of your organization?  If that wasn’t the first thing that came to mind, why not?

First of all, Culture is the character and personality of your organization.  It’s what makes your organization unique.  And I believe the biggest force that shapes your Culture are your Core Values.  What we value determines what we do.  In other words, your Core Values are foundational to what drives your organizations’ behavior.

So why is this important?  Well, let’s start with this – Healthy cultures attract and keep healthy people.  When you have healthy people – they are productive, focused on the future, and about getting better.  For applicants, especially in today’s tight labor market, they are looking for more than a paycheck.  They are looking for a company that cares about them, and that will help them grow and succeed.

So where do you start?  Well, there are 3 steps that I would suggest for you to consider.  First, Assess Your Core Values.  Are they stated or communicated?  Are they easy to understand?  Are they action-oriented? Do they move you emotionally?  From your perspective, are your employees living them out, or are they just “words on a wall”?

Another action for assessing your Core Values is to ask your employees and customers:

  • What words would they use to describe your organization?
  • What things are most important to them?

If your Core Values remain true, you still may want to consider a “Refresh”.  Get your employees involved and engage them with painting the picture of the organization.  What gets them excited?  What stories related to those values can be told?

Then to reflect the message of your Culture’s importance, the next step is to Emphasize your Values in your Communication and Recognition.  By recognizing and rewarding those that are living out those values, you will see an impact to your Culture – as those examples, or stories, will breed more stories, and have a multiplier effect.  For example, if teamwork is a value, then start recognizing your teams.  If Customer Service is a value, then start rewarding those that are going above and beyond to service your customers.

And my final step for building your Culture is to Hire and Recruit for your Core Values.  You need to think Culture first when interviewing candidates; no matter how well they meet

About the Author: Steve Erb

Steve is a graduate of Purdue University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics / Statistics, and Villanova University, where he received his MBA. Steve’s career has included senior leadership positions with two Fortune500 companies in Procurement, Logistics, Supply Chain, and Operations. Steve also built out the Organizational Development/HR department for a software technology firm and was a key part of seven (7) acquisitions over a 2-year period; as well as developing a successful compensation strategy and structure.

Steve’s expertise lies in developing operations strategies that eliminate redundancies; streamline processes/systems; and deliver productivity, quality, and efficiency gains. Steve has a proven reputation for caring for employees and teams, resulting in an overriding “Servant Leadership” mentality that transforms company cultures and creates a sense of employee engagement and accountability. Steve is also known for his change management expertise and ability to gain credibility to align performance drivers, customer expectations, and initiate continuous improvement across multi-site operations.

The Sharpening Stone

The Sharpening Stone is a series of short videos from True Edge designed to sharpen leaders and their organizations.

Want to receive The Sharpening Stone in your inbox? Signup below.

Rely on our executive experience and professional psychological expertise to help you find your True Edge.