Culture can be the biggest competitive advantage to an organization. But what makes a great culture? Every organization is unique, and many factors are involved in creating one. A strong culture should recognize and embrace the values, standards and goals of the organization and align with internal stakeholders while also having a positive impression on external stakeholders. In this week’s blog post we look at some of the necessary components in building healthy organizational culture.

Core Values
At the core of an organizations culture is its values. An organization looking for long-term health must start with identifying these core values. While vision explains purpose, values give a set of guidelines that are necessary in achieving the vision. Values bring forth a shared sense of purpose and if communicated correctly, they can be the glue that holds the company culture together. While it can be beneficial to have the organizations values posted around the office, in documents, on a website or in a handbook – actively modeling those values and leading by example will make the biggest difference to an organizations culture. When organizational values are used as a guide to making business decisions, it empowers employees to engage and do the same – in turn building a strong culture naturally.

It might be instinctive for senior level team members to take on and spearhead all high-level work, but it can be very beneficial to let others on the team take the lead whenever possible. Allowing others to take responsibility makes them feel valued and builds trust. Our Account Coordinator Zana Petric says; “When my senior level colleagues give me an opportunity to work on something outside of my role, it definitely makes me feel valued as a team member to be able to contribute in an area where I might not usually find myself. The more I do it, the more comfortable I feel about my skill set and how I can apply it to different projects. It is a good feeling when your bosses trust you to try different types of work, it really aids in your learning”. If a strategy is being develop for a project, consider designating a team member who is not in a leadership role to contribute. Allowing them to showcase their skill set in a different setting will allow for a fresh perspective on a project and could lead to unexpected results.

It can be extremely easy for an organization to set up an approach for fostering a strong company culture – and then end up neglecting it. It is important to note that creating a sustainable culture is a continuous effort that must be nurtured in order to work. It might seem that the organizations culture is strictly the responsibility of either the CEO or those at the top, however that is not the case. Employees at all levels must be actively involved in contributing to building a strong organizational culture.

Final Bell
An organizations culture shapes the experience of all stakeholders. While there is no rule book to follow for developing the perfect culture – it is necessary to continuously work at maintaining, encouraging and nurturing the organization as a whole for a culture to truly be sustainable.