The manager’s responsibility in building a company culture

🚀 What is the invisible driving force that determines the internal dynamics and external appearance of a company? The answer is simpler than you think: company culture. 🌟

Not just a “vibe” or mood. A company culture is the set of deep-rooted values, norms and expectations that shape employee behaviour, decisions and interactions. And last but not least, all of this is said, communicated, enforced and kept in mind on a regular basis!

A strong company culture is like a magnet. Attracting and retaining talent… That’s why we’re dealing with it.

Want to better understand why company culture is so important and how to shape it?

Have you ever wondered about the invisible forces that can make or break a company? No, I’m not talking about finance or marketing strategy. The answer is much closer than you think: company culture.

When you walk into an office, you get a vibe, right? An energy that is either sympathetic and makes you feel good (you want to stay), or it pushes you away and you’d rather leave. But where does this energy come from? And why is it at the point where it is?

A company culture or corporate culture is a set of behaviours and habits shared by the members of a company.

This includes the values employees hold dear, how they make decisions, how they work together, the environment they work in and how they see the future of the company and themselves. Corporate culture affects not only internal operations, but also external relationships, such as how a company is perceived by partners, customers or even complete outsiders.

Some important aspects of corporate culture:

Where do the employees work? (office, home, field)

What is the expectation regarding working hours and arrival?

What are the company’s short and long-term goals?

What are the company’s priorities?

How do employees feel at work?

What are the core values and internal principles of the company?

How does the company communicate externally, for example with customers or suppliers?

The importance of corporate culture is underpinned by a range of research. For example, LinkedIn research shows that 66% of employees want to learn about the company’s culture and values when considering a job change. According to Deloitte research, companies that actively manage their culture have 40% higher employee retention.

So company culture is more than just the atmosphere in the workplace, but it affects it, a lot. It is a complex system that determines both the internal functioning of the company and its external relations.

In my understanding, corporate culture is nothing more than the internal values, norms and expectations of a company.

But it’s not just about dry rules and expectations. Think about it: what motivates people to come into the office in the morning? Why do they decide the way they do? And why do they feel good or bad at work?

A strong company culture is like a magnet.

It attracts talent and keeps it for the long term. But how can it be developed? The first step is to clarify what values we want to represent. But is it enough? Of course not. Leaders need to be actively involved in this process, leading by example and supporting the culture that is being created.

Let’s say: If managers don’t support the company culture, how can employees be expected to? And if employees don’t feel their opinions matter, how can they feel engaged?

A strong company culture is not just about how things work internally. It also has an impact on the company’s image and brand. For example, in big tech companies like Apple or Google – People buy not only their products, but also the values and culture they represent.

So if we haven’t already, it’s time to start working on our company culture. After all, company culture is not just a buzzword. It is also the invisible force that determines the success or failure of a company.

You can do it unconsciously (I’m shaping my company as a manager, I drift with my people and I work with people who have similar values but there’s always a colleague who slips in who doesn’t…) or you can do it consciously, when you first take a piece of paper and a pen – and start writing it down.

How should management start building a company culture?

Creating a company culture is not a one-off project, but an ongoing, strategic process that involves the whole organisation. But how do we get started?

1. Define values and mission: first of all, it is necessary to clarify what values and mission the company wants to represent. These will be the building blocks of the company culture. What values are important for the company? Why does the company exist and what kind of future does it envision for itself? (I think that a maximum of 3 is enough, and more would be unnecessary in the first round, since people won’t remember it anyway, and if they don’t remember it, they won’t follow it).

2. Leadership engagement: leaders must be actively involved in shaping the company culture. It’s not enough to just say the values, leaders need to put them into practice in their everyday lives. How do managers support the company culture through their decisions and behaviour? Let’s say if it’s important to you that your employees arrive on time in the morning, but you’re regularly late (because you’re the boss, you can do it…) then I’d have to say you’re arrogant because your expectations are not realistic. If you get there on time, someone else can, so you’re right to expect it. Set an example! 🙂

3. Communication and education: the company culture should be regularly communicated to employees. This means not only communicating the values, but also helping employees to understand why these values are important and how they can put them into practice in their daily work. Why is it good for them and how will success be shared?

4. Develop a feedback system: employees should be given the opportunity to give feedback on the company culture. In which areas do they feel comfortable and where do they see room for improvement? Learn to listen! Because you can get information / new knowledge if you open your ears. You already know your own arguments, thought processes and opinions, now you should be curious about the others, because something follows from them.

5. Company events and team-building programmes: joint events, training and team-building programmes are an excellent opportunity for employees to get to know each other and the company’s values better. How can interpersonal relationships within the team be strengthened?

Interpersonal relationships are key to operating effectively in a corporate environment. These relationships affect communication, teamwork and harmony between colleagues. If there is no harmony, it is difficult to cooperate.

6. Measurement and evaluation: company culture is not a static but a dynamic phenomenon. Regularly assess where the company is in the process of building its culture and where further improvements are needed.

Developing all this is a long-term process (starting with a pen and paper) that requires serious commitment and work from both management and staff. I would suggest that as a manager you shouldn’t decide on your own, but with your inner circle.

The time and energy invested will pay off: a strong company culture contributes to the success of the company, increases employee engagement and loyalty, and helps the company adapt to a changing environment – a strong skill in 2023.

Companies need to develop strategies that allow them to react quickly to changing circumstances and maintain their competitiveness in the market. And this is only possible with a strong team, where you can count on your colleagues and employees! You can have a good product or service if your bastions are shaky.

Are you ready for a change?

It takes courage because you have to face up to the weaknesses of your company…

…and you need to recognise the areas where improvement is needed (maybe for you). But remember that all great change and progress begins with inner introspection.

Company culture is not just about the present, it’s also about the future that you and your team are building together. Change is an opportunity to grow, innovate and improve your company’s performance.

Don’t be afraid of challenges, use them as a springboard.

Building a corporate culture is not a one-off exercise, but a continuous journey, with each step taking us closer to our goals. Be persistent, trust yourself and the people around you and believe in the power of change!

Because it is not a necessary evil, but an OPPORTUNITY to improve, to do better and, in the end, to be surrounded by more satisfied and loyal colleagues. Good for everyone! 🙂

(I’m working on this myself, as values have not been “spoken” in our organization so far… but they are so important! Go for it, you too!)

Aletta Nagy-Kozma