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How to implement company culture

When we think of culture we think of an organically changing set of ideas, behaviours and customs shared by a specific group of people but when it comes to organisations, culture must be planned and monitored in order to be achieved.

A detailed strategy – which is as important as a sales strategy or growth- must be in place, and the environment for company culture to flourish must be created by leaders and managers.

Whoever develops the company culture strategy must be clear on the focus and desired outcomes; this is how you build the strategy and to implement it, everyone within the company or organisation must understand what is expected of them and must be personally developed in a way that is meaningful and effective.

To ensure that employees are on board and on message with the company and each other, we have found that regular 360 feedback helps to regularly measure behaviours and thus culture, as observed by people providing feedback to each other. This data can be used to make changes where necessary. In order to achieve your desired company culture there must be no ambiguity or confusion at any levels in the organisation about the behaviours that are expected and rewarded.

Your leadership team should have a clear vision of the direction they are pursuing and communicate this clearly to employees – they should also demonstrate the values by the way they act and the things they say.

Telling your team what is expected of them is not always enough and having frequent check-ins with 360 Feedback can highlight not only to how they are performing but also whether they are changing and driving the company culture.

Stimulating people in their work environment is increasingly important, as is portraying the desired traits; if your team is expected to behave in a certain way, they must be shown not only what to do but why and how to go about it.

360 Feedback can be used throughout the process – from defining what the company culture looks like, through to establishing goals and measuring the performance of your leaders or employees against those culture aims and indicators.

We are not suggesting that all employees must be moulded into a one shape fit all, in fact, we have found that a correctly managed culture strategy empowers individuals to pursue their own goals and to make decisions within the agreed parameters of the company culture.

When implementing ‘company culture’ the leaders must work together and decide how to translate the cultural strategy so that they can define achievable actions. These actions can then be highlighted to staff and their individual jobs – ideally in a way that they will understand and respond positively.

This then needs to be filtered down to the heads of department, who, in turn, will need to define how their teams – the middle managers and the line managers – will appreciate what’s expected of them and how they need to coach the front line employees.

Like sales and marketing strategy, to align your cultural strategy there is no room for error. Each stage of the filtration process must include clear actions and training plans for every level which must be aligned and linked together.

The measure of a successful company culture is when every member of the organisation has clear cultural goal that relates to the original strategy, and know how they are to achieve those goals. This ensures the strategy comes full circle, and this should be supported by positive leadership and management that rewards constructive and progressive actions.

We have found this Training Journal article useful when thinking of implementing or changing company culture.