Is your company culture & values enhancing or regressing?

November 8, 2022

Is your company culture & values enhancing or regressing?

I am delighted you found our last newsletter on how to 'Strengthen your business foundations to weather good and challenging times' valuable. Here it is for those who missed it.

Today we will be discussing how to make culture & values real (demonstrated in a tangible way) in your company regardless of employee size. Below are a few questions to help shape our thinking on this topic. These questions should be asked at every level of your organisation.

  • Is your company culture getting better as a result of the great talent you are hiring and retaining or is it regressing due to hiring and nurturing the ‘wrong’ hires?
  • Is there a direct correlation between culture & values with client success and results?
  • How Is your organisation tracking the health of its culture and values beyond employee engagement surveys?
  • Is there clarity on what your culture and values are AND what it isn't? How explicitly have you framed this?
  • Do your leaders exemplify the culture? Is it used as a hard metric to evaluate their success just as you would use revenue attainment to assess the performance of a sales leader?
  • Are there consequences when a leader or employee shows up in a way that does not represent your culture and values?
  • Is your culture & values favouring one group over the other? What biases may be at play?  
  • How embedded are wellness and well-being in your culture and values?
  • Does everyone in your organisation know that they are responsible for enhancing the culture and values or is the perception that this is the role of your people leaders only?
  • How frequently do you do deep dive on this topic beyond the annual or bi-annual employee survey?
  • How consistent are your culture and values in hard times such as declining revenue, client churning, employee unforeseen circumstances, economic downturns, and shareholder demands?
  • What does your culture say and do with topics like racism, discrimination, layoffs, abuse at work or bullying?
  • How bulletproof are your culture and value when it comes to picking between people or profits?

Here are six, by no means exhaustive, ideas that I have seen work from startups & large enterprises.

1. Executive Real Talk - A real talk/meeting between every people leader, C-suite, recruitment leaders, HRBP, hiring managers, and a sample of your employees across all departments and levels. The purpose is to collate feedback on reality v.s rhetoric of the daily demonstration of the culture and values from the top down and bottom up. This will help give a more complete picture of the current state, as long as the team involved feel psychologically safe to be transparent.

2. Clear documentation and an upfront social contract on what your company culture and values mean and don't mean. Ambiguity can lead to individual interpretation which can be counterproductive.

3. Hiring strategy - Since it takes one bad hire to make or break culture, A diverse panel should be coupled with competency-based interviewing for a more objective and equitable process. This helps to minimise biases. Note, to hire for culture add (going a step above culture fit) it is needful to prioritise hiring the right talent over hiring fast.

4. Culture and values-based performance review and reward. Reward behaviours that promote your company culture and values. Celebrate what you want to be replicated privately and publicly. Include your cultural & value tenets as primary in your performance reviews as you would KPIs such as revenue goals, and customer satisfaction scores. Culture is too critical to be an afterthought.

5. Data analysis and trend spotting - Analyse your data on new recruits, existing employees, diversity, employees by tenure, seniority, and promotions by gender, ethnicity, and age group. What are the themes and trends and how does it align with your culture and values?

Other data points worth collecting and reviewing - Interview new and tenured employees frequently to get the stories - the good, the bad and the ugly for additional context your data could be missing. Find out why they joined, why they are staying and why they leave. What are the correlations, learning, or trends?

6. Accountability sessions - We cannot expect what we don't inspect. Frequent sessions, training, and reviews with recruiters, hiring managers and all people leaders help to drive commitment. Stories can be shared of desirable and unacceptable behaviors to ensure actions are consistent with the culture and values you’re building and also share why it matters to the joint goal.

Your company culture & values are the "HOW" and guiding principle behind the execution of how you serve your clients, employees, and how you build your product or service. How you lead, how you pitch, how you inform stakeholders, and how you achieve product market fit. Culture is the foundation of how you execute. It is critical for company success.

Culture & values eat strategy, product-market fit, and execution for breakfast

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Reach out to Lead Not Lag if your growth startup needs help to accelerate in these 3 areas:

  • Revenue Growth
  • Leadership Development
  • Vision, Values & Culture

*I can also help you as a startup coach, startup advisor, gtm consultant, monetisation, company culture, revenue growth, leadership coach, leadership workshop and more. Contact

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