Lead With Culture In Mind & Get Results!


Culture, well it’s a lot like air – it’s all around you, but it’s tough to put your finger on it and you don’t often give it much thought! It’s the invisible vibe that lingers in an organization.

The success of an organization hinges on the health of its culture, and that applies to churches, ministries, non-profits, corporations, small businesses and more. Even families have a culture!

What Exactly Is Culture?

Culture is made up of a variety of things in the same way that air is. Air is mostly gas and is made up of approximately 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, along with small amounts of other gases like carbon dioxide, neon, hydrogen, and more – all of which are invisible to the naked eye! Learn more here.

There is also an assortment of things that make up culture like…

  • Organizational values
  • The collective beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions
  • A feeling of belonging, valued, and empowered
  • Staff interactions (collaborative or confrontational, supportive or unsupportive, people oriented or task focused)
  • Management/Leadership– including goals, hierarchy, structure, procedures, controls, etc.
  • Communications
  • Practices related to recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, compensation and benefits, incentives, recognition, training and development, promotions, performance, PTO,
  • Traditions
  • Policies like scheduling, attendance, dress code, code of conduct, etc.
  • How clear the vision/mission of the organization is and how they are walked out
  • Work environment – what it looks and feels like
  • How well expectations, feedback, and follow through are executed

Every organization has a unique culture. Even when there are no intentional efforts, there is a culture.

Leadership is poised to significantly influence the kind of culture an organization has. In fact, leaders set the tone for the environment, expectations, and more, but the individual contributors influence the culture too!

Why Does Culture Matter?

Even though culture is abstract, it can make or break your organization. In fact, it’s impacting more than you might realize! A positive culture plays a role in…

1. Attracting Talent

Companies like Alphabet (Google/YouTube/Nest & More). Facebook (Instagram/Oculus VR & WhatsApp), and Salesforce are all companies people want to work at, which allows them to acquire top talent. What makes these companies desirable? Well, Google is known for is unlimited meals, which allows employees to enjoy free meals while also promoting community. The work environment is pretty sweet and includes things like dog parks, indoor fire pits, and climbing walls, which are some pretty fun perks! Now things like that don’t matter much in a pandemic, but I bet they’ve come up with some innovative ways to make working from home a happy thing too! And there’s more!

Facebook’s “bootcamp” is a unique on-boarding program for their engineers. One engineer described it as “Some of the most fun and best learning I’ve had in my career by one engineer.” They take investing in their people seriously! That’s not the only reason Facebook is sought after place to work. Some of the other reasons are the perks and compensation, leadership, and career opportunities.

What attracts people to Salesforce? A strong culture of feedback and transparency, a sense of purpose, career growth, work-life balance, and flexibility and mobility – something that allowed them to easily face the pandemic.

Not all organizations have the ability to provide the luxuries that companies like Google, Facebook, and Salesforce are able to provide, but what can you do? How can you creatively make your organization more appealing?

2. Employee Engagement

When your culture is positive and energizing, your people are more productive! No one does their best work when they are stressed, unhappy, or working in an environment that is not motivating!

According to the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, unhappy workers produce 10% less work than the average worker, while the happy workers produce 12% more than the average worker. By turning your unhappy workers into happy workers, you have the opportunity to increase their productivity by 22%!

Better engagement translates into better performance! Increased performance leads to greater job satisfaction! And that means your people are more likely to stick around!

3. Retaining Employees

Turnover is expensive! Starting over with someone new takes time and money. The more you are able to retain your people, the better!

4. Enhancing Loyalty

Your people are your greatest advocates or your harshest critics. How they feel about your organization colors how others perceive your organization. Loyalty is created by the positive experience your people have working with and for the organization – the culture!

The positive (or negative) feelings your people have are contagious. They spread to your customers, clients, and the community. Their feelings directly impact the reputation and the success of your organization.

Anything that enhances loyalty – you want that!

5. Promoting Better Decision Making

When the priorities and values of an organization are clearly defined, it creates clarity and in turn a more positive culture. It’s tough to do your best work when the priorities and values are fuzzy.

Clear priorities and values will successfully guide and influence decisions like…

  • Hiring
  • The on-boarding processes
  • Empowering and rewarding your people
  • Communications
  • How performance is managed
  • How meetings are conducted
  • & more!

6. Improving The Bottom Line

Ultimately, happy people are more productive, creative, and satisfied workers that are eager to advocate for the organization. That naturally improves the bottom line. If your organization isn’t profitable, or if you ministry doesn’t successfully achieve its mission, you won’t last long! If you want better results, enhance your culture.

How Do You Improve Culture?

You get intentional about shaping the culture of your organization, especially if you are in a leadership role. It’s not just about getting the work done, it’s about how you get the work done.

Not in a leadership role? You can still make a difference by simply making an effort to value the people in your organization – help them feel like they matter and that they belong.

If you are a leader, be transparent and handle mistakes with grace. Empower your people and provide them with the resources they need to get the work done. Provide opportunities for your people to stretch themselves and grow. Collaboratively explore what changes would spruce up the work environment. Handle issues and conflicts immediately and skillfully, which may mean working on conflict resolution. Making sure your people feel like they are doing meaningful work. And have more fun!

Culture – that’s one thing Google has mastered! Their formula: Supportive + Positive + Perks = An Amazing Culture.

What About Culture In A Remote World?

Culture is all the more important when working remotely! You have to go above and beyond to cultivate a positive culture. Your rhythm of meeting, your process of communicating, and how you connect purposefully are key.

Working remote eliminates the “water cooler” connection point. Here are some ways to recreate that with your remote workers:

  • Schedule regular video meetings that include a clear agenda and time to celebrate accomplishments, inform your people of organizational updates, and allow the team to offer individual updates, ask questions  and break out into smaller groups where people can catch up personally. You might even want to allow team members to rotate leading the meetings.
  • Team building opportunities including ice breakers, challenges, reading a book together (and it can be just for fun!), development experiences, or even a virtual game like these offered at Ryptic Team Building, GreenhatPeople, or WildlyDifferent. Don’t have the budget for those? Consider playing games like Scattergories®, Pictionary®, Bingo, or Charades. For this to be possible, one person needs to have the game, and depending on the game, copies of lists or game cards that are passed on to everyone, but it is doable and inexpensive!
  • Brainstorm with your people solutions for areas of your culture that need to be stronger. You might be surprised with the outside-the-box solutions they come up with!

Culture is the heart of your organization – the driving force! It’s a significant factor in getting the results your organization is after!

What excites you about the culture in your organization?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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