The Blue Kite Blog

How to Reinvent Your Company Culture

By | July 18, 2016

The case has been made over and over again about why the culture you create at your company matters.

Countless articles have been written about why culture eats strategy for breakfast and you’ve seen the best places to work list published each year. We have even given three pillars you need in order to create strong culture.

Even though you may recognize the importance of culture, it can be tricky to see the state of your own company culture. Just like fish don’t know they are in water because they are immersed every day, it can also be difficult to clearly see your own culture.

It’s Time to Reinvent Your Company Culture

So, how do you know when it is time to reinvent your culture?

If your company has never talked about the culture you are creating, it may be time to pay attention to it. And even if you have discussed culture in the past, here are a few key signs that your culture might need some attention:

  • Employees are leaving at a fast rate
  • Employees seem unhappy and disengaged
  • Employee productivity has declined
  • Your company is going through a period of transition (growth or reduction)

Those are some of the things Tony Gareri, CEO of Roma Moulding, noticed when he realized it was time to reinvent his company culture. He saw sales plummet, employees leave in droves and he did not like who he had become as a leader. He saw these as the warning signs that something needed to change.

Even Facebook, after realizing with 400 employees and 80 million users that their culture still needed to be defined, stopped and asked – who do we want to be when we grow up?

Remember, if you don’t define your culture it will define you. If you have never spent time thinking about your culture, then now is as good a time as any to start.

Define Your Company Culture

3 Steps to Reinventing Your Culture

Reinventing your culture can feel like a huge undertaking. It is easy to fall back into the mantra, this is just the way things have always been done. But business success is rarely achieved with that mindset.

After all, you would not keep manufacturing a product that does not sell or continue using the same marketing strategy that does not attract any customers.

The same goes for your company culture. Why continue doing the same thing if it’s not helping you create a healthy, happy workplace?

So how do you reinvent your company culture? It takes vulnerability, openness, transparency and a willingness to change. Once you have that, there are three key steps to the process.

1. Evaluate the current situation

Before you can improve your company culture, you have to understand the state of your workplace as it exists right now.

Here are three steps to get to the heart of your current situation:

  • Look at your company. Start by identifying the key problems you are facing as a company. Do not just list the symptoms, but get to the root of the issues. For example, are employees leaving? If so, that is just a symptom of a larger issue. The root of the problem could be that employees have unrealistic job descriptions, are unable to communicate effectively with their supervisor or are not being recognized for their work. Dig deeper to find the underlying problems.
  • Look at yourself. A key to leadership is the ability to be self-aware and identify the role you have played in the culture becoming the way it is. How have you been a positive example to the rest of your team? Are you the leader you wish you had? Are you committed to your own personal growth and continually becoming a better leader for your company?
  • Look to your employees. The best thing you can do to evaluate the state of your company culture is ask the people immersed in it each day. Implement ways to actively listen to your employees and what they believe about the culture. Give anonymous surveys, host town hall meetings, and request feedback from employees at all levels. Not only does this give you feedback straight from those affected most, but it allows them to feel a part of the process, which creates buy-in for the changes that are to come.

2. Create a compelling vision

Once you understand where you are, think about where you want to go as a company. This is your chance to dream!

Asks yourself these questions:

  • What is do you want the future of your company to look like?
  • Think back to when you first started your company – why did you start it?
  • What change do you want to see in the world?
  • What does a strong company culture look like to you?
  • What do you stand for as a business?
  • What do you value?

The answers to these questions will help you cast a compelling vision for the culture you want to create. To reinvent your culture, it’s important to get the big picture right.

Chances are if your culture is weak you have lost sight of your vision and values. These are the foundation of your culture.

If you don’t have core values, now is the time to create them. There are many resources available to help you determine your core values, but here is what worked for us.

As the founder or leader of your company, you cannot be the one who determines the culture entirely on your own. But, you should be the driving force and visionary behind it.

Bring together a team of influencers within your company to help define your culture and where you want to take it. Continue listening to all employees and giving opportunities for feedback. Buffer did this when they were determining their core values to involve employees.

3. Create a culture plan

Now that you have seen where you are and where you want to go – how are you going to get there?

It starts by creating a culture plan. By identifying your why and core values, you have already mapped out the foundation of your plan. Next, you must decide your priorities for how you can create the right environment and cultivate your team in order to strengthen your culture.

You can do this by identifying the gaps in your existing culture and your vision. For instance, if you recognize that you don’t do a good job of recognizing individual employees, determine what steps you will take to improve this. You might consider developing an employee rewards program or recognizing all-star employees at weekly staff meetings.

Write down your priorities and the steps you will be taking to make changes in these areas.

Once you have done that, it’s important to communicate your vision to the team and your plan for implementing it.  Allow feedback and answer questions. While you can’t please everyone, creating a space for questions and feedback goes a long way to create employee buy-in.

Reinventing Your Culture Is Worth It

Improving your company culture can be a challenging process. With change comes growing pains and reinventing your culture means a lot of growth. You may have to make hard decisions like letting employees go who are not a good fit for the new direction of the company.

But, we believe focusing on improving your company culture is worth the investment. It is a huge component of propelling your business to where you want it to be.