C-Suite Network™

5 Steps You Can Take to Reshape Your Company Culture

Executive leaders hear a lot of talk nowadays about the importance of company culture, and I can sense that some people haven’t quite bought into the concept. I’m sure that some see it as a soft, feel-good slogan, but in fact research shows that having a positive work culture is a hardcore business practice.

Say you’ve already bought into the importance of your work culture, it’s still tempting to look for the “hack” or shortcut to creating your company culture. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just click on the ‘download’ button and, after just a few short minutes, (depending on your bandwidth) voila, your new company culture would be installed?

We all know it’s not that easy. Your company culture is a big ship, it didn’t get where it is in the blink of an eye, and it will take some time – and effort – to turn that big ship around.

Those efforts will need to begin with a cohesive, committed, collaborative leadership team. Notice I didn’t say you should start with a strategic plan. That’s where many organizations start, and that’s their first mistake.

If your leadership team is pulling against one another instead of all rowing in the same direction, all of the strategies and all of the plans in the world won’t work.

First, I work with leadership teams to help them to function like a true team so that they can achieve results in a much shorter time frame. Once we’ve accomplished that, then we get to work on strategy.

I encourage executive leaders, managers, and senior level executives to think about what kind of experience they want to create for their customers and then what kind of environment they want to cultivate for their employees. The two are intertwined.

Here are 5 steps that you can take to reshape your company culture:

1. Provide challenging work. Research shows that ease is actually a path to dissatisfaction. In fact, when it gets easy, we tend to check out. Yeah, who knew? So provide work that allows team members to stretch, use their strengths, and feel useful and valuable.

2. Know what business you’re in. Harley Davidson is not just in the motorcycle business and Zappo’s is not just in the shoe business. Organizations like these are all about creating exceptional experiences for their customers. Ensure that your employees and your team members understand the business they’re in and this will drive the company’s work culture.

3. Put people over profits. Your team members will treat your customers no better than you treat your employees. Take an interest in your people. Ask what they’re working on, struggling with. Talk to them about their learning and career growth goals.

4. Don’t assume that no news is good news. Ask for feedback. Ask employees what you could be doing better. Ask how the work environment could be improved. Ask what employees like and dislike about their jobs. Ask, ask, ask. Listen and then take action to make whatever improvements you can.

5. Don’t take yourself or your business too seriously. I recently flew on Southwest Airlines after they’d had a major computer outage. Needless to say, there were delays, passengers were, uh, cranky, and stress was high. Once in flight, our flight attendant had everyone in stitches, served drinks on the house, and literally turned what could have been a nightmare into a pleasant experience. Southwest has worked hard to build a fun company culture. Team members are given latitude and encouraged to express their sense of humor. Build in fun and team activities to your culture wherever you can. Allow time for informal gatherings, even if it’s just for lunch or a fun snack break.

Revamping your company culture can seem daunting, but you can do it by consistently applying these business communication practices over time. The message must come from the top and be consistent throughout all levels of the organization. Oh, and in case you didn’t pick up on that: consistency is the key.


  • What would you add to this list?
  • What are some areas where you’d like to improve?
  • How have you created a positive company culture in your organization?
  • Leave a comment below and share your insights with our community.

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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.

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Jennifer Ledet

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