People Leaders Transforming Company Culture

Merriam-Webster defines culture as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” Or for a more simplistic definition let’s use Gallup, Inc’s “How we do things around here!”

A company’s culture is truly everyone’s responsibility – to define it, to embrace it and to model it. In year’s past culture may have been seen as the sole responsibility of the CEO who would then pass the responsibility along to the Human Resources Department to implement and monitor that cultural decree.

A top-down approach to defining a company culture does not work. A company that builds a successful culture ensures that the C-suite, HR department, managers, and individual contributors act in unison embracing and modeling their core values. One group that has the most influence on an employee’s daily experience is their direct supervisor/people leader. People leaders have a powerful impact on a company’s culture – hopefully for the good!

People leaders are often overlooked in culture building efforts. A successful organization understands that people leaders should play a critical role in supporting and cultivating the company culture.

Here are 5 things people leaders should do to help support and model company culture:

  1. Hire for culture – train for skill. Managers need to be trained on how to effectively interview. Leaders need to look beyond the skill set of a candidate and determine if the person would “fit” into the company culture.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. As a leader of people, effectively communicating to individual contributors is paramount to success. Being specific, being timely and being direct are skills great supervisors possess.
  3. Monitor performance. A people leader needs to monitor performance not just on a yearly basis but daily, weekly, monthly, etc. People need to know what is expected and whether they are meeting those expectations.
  4. Recognition. One of the fundamental pillars of Total Rewards is “recognition.” Employees who feel appreciated and recognized for their work are 14% more engaged at work (Deloitte). Engaged employees will spread the news of how much they enjoy the company culture.
  5. Managing Conflict.  Great people leaders do not turn their back on conflict. No one enjoys having to manage conflict in the workplace but the manager is the first-line that should effectively deal with conflict.

When people leaders lead by example they make a positive impact on the company’s culture. Change should not come from the middle up or the middle down – but the middle is where culture can either survive or crash.