5 Ways To Ensure Culture Is At The Heart Of Your Company By Sarah McDonnell

Creating a company culture is not easy, whether you run your own business or are in charge of culture for an enterprise-scale organisation. It is important to understand what’s at the heart of the companies’ culture and set out a vision that you can then co-create with your people and teams. Read on, for 5 ways you can improve your company by Sarah McDonnell, the founder of corporate wellbeing and coaching company Rebel.

Be brave and discover what your culture is really like! 

This means talking to people within the organisation. Take feedback every way you can (focus groups, pulse surveys, anonymous notes etc), whatever route you choose, it is key to validate your beliefs and experience with other people that live it every day. Only once you truly understand the current culture can you start to improve it. 

Now you have some data, what next? 

By now you should have lots of feedback data you can use to build your culture improvement strategy. Do a synthesis of this data: Go through it methodically and group it into common areas of concern, red flag areas, topics that need fixing. This stage should take time and not be rushed; it is not something you can do in an hour’s gap! Grab yourself some coloured Posits and be really thorough with every single piece of feedback you receive. 

By the end of the synthesis, you will have a map that shows you where your current gaps are and areas that need attention. 

So, now you know what needs to be improved, how are you doing to do it? 

What works for one organisation, won’t necessarily work for another!  E.g. If transparency is a focus area, think about why you want to improve it and how. Start by asking yourself’ what does transparency mean to my organisation? Does it mean transparency of salaries (a bold step, but one that can help a company build a trusted and transparent culture), or does it mean making all documentation visible to the organisation. Does ‘corporate wellbeing’ mean weekly company-funded yoga sessions, or does it mean daily team meditations? 

Be creative and imaginative and really consider what will work for your company and make sure that every intervention you think of is based on the data that has come up in your synthesis. 

Create a culture manifesto

Most companies have values, and that’s great – but manifestos are the next step in evolving and improving your company culture. An action-oriented document that holds people to account, it allows you to showcase what your company culture is, and what that means in action. You could even go one step further and publish it publicly to show people you are really serious! 

Finally, and this is the important bit…..validate, validate, validate. 

You are not single handily going to improve the culture of the company, this is a co-creation that will take time, emotional labour and honesty. To create truly harmonious, human-centred companies you need to consult with the humans that work in them to ensure that what you are proposing, works for them! 

Test your hypothesis with teams and people, check if your interventions or ideas are something they would be interested in, and most importantly, get comfortable with killing your ideas! 

We all fall in love with our own ideas, (particularly when it’s something as emotive as culture), but if something doesn’t fit an organisation – kill it, and kill it quickly before it becomes embedded and has a detrimental effect on the cultural improvement you are trying to make! 



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