Living Corporate Culture: Getting It Right by Putting People First

A living corporate culture is just that: alive and thriving. It’s not an inert collection of wishy-washy goals, familiar buzzwords, and pretty-sounding slogans. It’s a dynamic, energizing part of the organization that has a daily impact on everyone who works there, from the C-suite to the janitorial staff.

A CEO who is dedicated to crafting a living culture will reap the rewards for the company, beyond profit margins and touching on something more profound. When it’s done right, the spirit of that culture radiates outward from the CEO and inspires all facets of the company. It fosters collaboration and facilitates discretionary effort—when employees go beyond what is merely “required” or “expected” of them to contribute at a higher level and with a greater degree of creativity and passion. 

A strong culture is like oil in a high-performance vehicle. The oil is indispensable to its operation and keeps the parts running smoothly. Like a company without a suitable culture, a car with no oil (or old, dirty oil) gets gummed up quickly and ceases to function.

Culture has to be founded on the notion of putting people first and treating them with integrity and respect. However, corporate culture is not truly alive if it’s not practiced in visible and concrete ways. Bring your culture to life by implementing programs that allow the core values to be realized on a daily basis. One way is to actively celebrate and recognize employees’ hard work and their embodiment of those values. Hold regular company meetings and include recognition of employee accomplishments as a regular component. Encourage managers to acknowledge their team members whenever they embody the company’s cultural values.

In truth, the link between culture and employee personality is a two-way street: the culture influences people’s attitudes and behaviors, and the employees’ own personalities are reflected in and shape the culture. Consider what personal characteristics you would you like to see in employees; let that guide how you shape the environment of the organization. On a practical level, this means hiring people who really fit the organization’s character and gel with its values.

A corporation exists to make money. That’s just a fact. But most CEOs are driven by more than the desire for a return on their investment, and the best company cultures reflect that. A living culture is a guiding light for how people can work, think, act, and create together, in a way that strengthens their personal and professional bonds, aligns them with organizational goals, and exemplifies to the community the good that happens when people, like a well-oiled Porsche, move in sync, united by strong values and empowered by the drive to do well.

  • Share this story: