Company Culture Elements

Efforts to build company culture can look like many different things depending on the size and structure of the organization and available resources. Robust programs could include formal in-depth training sessions that immerse learners with interactive exercises, opportunities for discussion and collaboration with teammates.  Simpler programs could include brief but regularly scheduled activities that maintain and nourish culture and give meaning to everyday work.

Five Key Elements of Culture

No matter what it looks like, there are five key elements that should be at the core of every culture program.

  1. Connect to the customer promise. The customer promise should be at the core of everything you do. It’s imperative for everyone in the organization to understand and get behind your customer promise – this is especially important in large organizations where there could be many layers of employees who are removed from direct customer interaction. Every employee needs to connect the dots between what they do in their job every day and how it supports the customer promise.
  2. Belief system. Behind the customer promise should be a set of beliefs or pillars that guide daily decisions, remove roadblocks and mobilize teams. The beliefs should be embedded into every layer of the company – starting at the top. They can be tied closely to the company’s mission and vision, but they should not be filled with too much business-speak. Keep the beliefs relevant and simple so they’ll resonate with every level of the organization.
  3. Behaviors that are founded on beliefs. The beliefs guide our decisions – the behaviors are how we fulfill the beliefs. They go hand-in-hand. Behaviors that have no belief system as a foundation will quickly wither. This is where you show employees how to translate the beliefs into everyday action.
  4. Nod to heritage. Culture forms as the result of an organization’s journey. Including some high-level narrative that tells the story of how and why the company got where it is today will help learners understand where they fit into the picture. Don’t belabor company history and heritage, but use it as a platform to provide context to where you are on the journey and where you’ve been.
  5. Ongoing support and engagement. Culture is not created through a one-time initiative or a single training session. To keep it alive and on the most desirable track to support the customer promise, you have to provide ongoing engagement with employees. Culture needs constant nurturing and re-energizing to keep it alive, vibrant, and healthy – especially in large organizations.

Using these elements as a program foundation will ensure that culture is sustained and maintained for the long haul. If you want to enhance your culture program or create one from scratch but don’t know where to begin, please contact my team – we’d love to talk. Kennedy Communications Global has created culture programs for leading organizations around the world including companies with geographically dispersed teams and multiple brands. We can help you create a program that works for your company and aligns with your customer promise.

For other thoughts on culture, be sure to check out these articles:

Company Culture Should be All About the Brand

Want to change company culture: Start by changing beliefs.

About Alice Wright

As Director of Content Strategy, Alice directs projects while also designing program strategy and instructional content. She has more than 22 years of experience managing integrated strategic marketing, communication and training programs for globally recognized brands. Some of her current and past clients include Nike, Sunglass Hut, Safeway, Banfield Pet Hospital, Office Depot, Unilever, LensCrafters, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, Dell, adidas, Joann Stores and others. Alice earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Communication at University of Oregon. She lives with her husband and teenage son in Portland, Oregon where she loves exploring the outdoors and being a soccer/band mom.