We revere companies with great culture and idolize CEOs like Tony Hsieh who put culture first in a very public way. Young startup founders, in particular, invest a lot of energy into defining their values and often put “culture fit” at the top of their hiring must-haves.
But much of what we call “culture” is about the day-to-day interactions between staff and executive team members, or customers and your service or sales departments.
And so the actions you do (or don’t) take as a leader are what really influence perceptions of your company’s culture, both inside and out.
We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question:
“How do you communicate company culture on a daily basis — a corkboard? Email taglines? Standup meetings?”
Communicating Company Culture
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. Celebrate Values Alignment Through Actions
“Culture isn’t a few platitudes on the wall. Culture flows from true values: what the company spends time and money on. Discuss how alternatives (strategy, hiring) reflect company values. Include values alignment in performance coaching. Celebrate team members when their actions embody company values. ” ~ Kevon Saber, Fig
2. Create Traditions
“Capture and create traditions that support your culture. They’re under your nose every day; you just have to find them. Look for opportunities to create “rites of passage” for new employees, stimulate healthy competition, award prizes and celebrate major accomplishments. These things all give your company personality and are what people go home talking about.” ~ Christopher Kelly, Sentry Conference Centers
3. Hold Virtual Meetings
“Virtual meetings are our tool of choice. We run a large team of 50+ employees. Getting an entire division’s, let alone the entire company’s, attention is near impossible. Instead, we do virtual meetings through Skype chat groups and a ‘virtual state of the company’ meeting where we go through our sales and next steps as a video address, which we record so the team can view it when they want.” ~ Liam Martin, Staff.com
4. Put Egg in Everything
“We include the word “egg” in a lot of our words. It’s really embarrassing, but it works: egg-cellent, egg-ceptional, egg-stra. When we’re feeling really TalentEgg-y, we even come up with more creative lines, such as “hatch your career” or “omelette you go.” ” ~ Lauren Friese, TalentEgg
5. Connect at Morning Meetings
“Each morning, we get together for the only mandatory part of our schedule: the morning meeting. We go around answering first, what we’re most excited about doing that day and then second, a silly question. (Examples include favorite children’s book, first pet’s name and No. 1 Thanksgiving dinner staple.) It’s a refreshing way to start the day and laugh a lot (one of our core values).” ~ Derek Flanzraich, Greatist
6. Send Encouraging Emails
“As an online business owner, I try to write a message each day to my staff that reinforces my organization’s culture. It may be an excerpt from our goals and initiatives, or details on a project recently completed that was in tune with our company culture.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
7. Lead by Example
“Most people could care less what you say — what’s important is what you do when the chips are down. I try to work harder than anyone else, never be to good to do the jobs that no one wants to do, and most importantly treat everyone with honesty and respect. That culture drives decisions from how we work with vendors, employees and especially customers.” ~ Erik Severinghaus, SimpleRelevance
8. Get Pumped for Game Time
“Every day, my team and I get together and talk about our goals for the day and what we learned from yesterday. What challenges, customer service and production issues did we have? The company then provides free breakfast and we tell jokes, write down goals for the day, play loud music, get pumped up and get on with our day to be a better company today. ” ~ Ak Kurji, Gennex Group
9. Show Appreciation
“I make a point of walking around the office every day and thanking people for their contributions. It could be something as small as, “I really appreciated the email announcement you crafted,” or something more substantive like, “Thanks for handling that tough situation a few days ago.” Thanking them reminds them to thank others and be appreciative of what we have.” ~ Brent Beshore, AdVentures
10. Appoint a Chief Culture Officer
“Culture is communicated, whether we try or not; it lives in all the small interactions we have and in the policies and procedures we adhere to. The goal is to be intentional about creating a great, life-giving culture — and the best way to do this is to have someone whose job is building good culture. Unless someone (or a team) is specifically paid to focus on it, it’s unlikely to be good.” ~ Josh Allan Dykstra, Strengths Doctors
11. Have a Daily Huddle
“Each and every single day at 11:11 a.m., we have a 5-minute, high-energy meeting that is open to every team member from every level of the company. We review good news and numbers from the day before, but an important part of the agenda is to share specific examples of how we’ve each demonstrated one of our company’s four core values in the last 24 hours. ” ~ Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk
12. Share Successes Everywhere
“We make sure everyone has a channel to announce their successes and curiosities with the rest of the team. Yammer announces everyone’s daily progress, a sales gong rings throughout the office whenever we get a new client and whiteboard paint from IdeaPaint covers many of our walls so no one ever has to travel far for a brainstorming session.” ~ Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics
I really like #7 and believe that many of the other suggestions really boil down to example as well. If you’re not setting the right example at the top, you’ll very quickly lose everyone.
Awesome communication tips. I especially loved the tip about sending encouraging emails. This is so key and it does wonders for me. I have a lot going on day to day and to get an encouraging email every now and then really does make a difference.
This is one of the finest article I have ever come across in my life, the ways to communicate our company culture is explained in well-mannered and that will definitely help every organization to develop good communication between the employees and senior management team….
Showing heartily appreciation by saying “thank you” in a unique way would lead to a big difference. I agree ! “It could be something as small as, “I really appreciated the email announcement you crafted,” or something more substantive like, “Thanks for handling that tough situation a few days ago.””
Having worked in a highly pressurised environment for over twenty years, (now semi-retired), some of the above would have worked really well. Sadly, we were often told that the monthly pay cheque was enough to show appreciation for all the hard work we put in. Rarely a pat on the back or a kind work. Appreciate your staff and they will work much harder and value the company ethos.
Awesome communication advice. I love the one regarding emailing, even writing a hand written note works. We used to do that to our top clients on a monthly basis