We’re obsessed with culture in HR — and for good reason. We want our offices to be engaging, fun places to work, and anyone who has worked at a company with a toxic culture knows how miserable the experience can be.
Of course, there remains one unfortunate truth: A great organizational culture doesn’t happen overnight. But Diane Adams, chief culture and talent officer at Sprinklr, says culture is something that can be built, as long as you take the time and effort. Adams is the author of “It Takes More than Casual Fridays and Free Coffee: Building a Business Culture that Works for Everyone,” and she joined me to talk about what you can do to build a better culture.
Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.
The Steps to Building a Great Culture
If you’ve ever tried to overhaul your organization’s culture, you know it can be as daunting as trying to repair your own car for the first time. It’s not fun — it’s scary, and you may even feel that no matter what you do, there’s a great chance of making things worse.
That’s why Adams has broken down the process for creating a great culture into seven steps. She shared the first three of those with us; to find out the rest you’ll have to read her book!
The first step is to define your mission and values. This will provide clarity to your organization about the standards you expect and the goals you hope to achieve. And the second step is to ensure that those values are being lived — or, as Adams puts it, “integrating them in everything you do.” One way to do this is to have a recognition program. Sprinklr has a peer-recognition program that makes it easy for employees to nominate their coworkers.
Connected with this is her third step: Be sure that you’re using your communications to effectively define the organization’s values. “One of the things that I think great companies do is ensure there are frequent, two-way communications,” Adams says. At Sprinklr the company’s town hall meetings are always in a Q&A format, to ensure that employees know they can speak their minds.
Where Culture Building Can Go Wrong
We talk a lot about values when discussing organizational culture, and we often see in the news examples of companies whose behavior has crossed ethical and legal lines.
In many cases these organizations aren’t living up to their values. And it’s these values, Adams says, that organizations have to always be sure they are emphasizing. Maintaining these standards can be more difficult than it looks, no matter how well-intentioned the organization is.
Don’t believe it can happen to you? Adams offers a thought experiment: “If we have our top salesperson bringing in the highest revenue [in a manner] which is totally contrary to our values, what are we going to do?”
It’s an intriguing thought that points to a dilemma that organizations often face. And while we in HR have our opinions, the reality is that it’s ultimately up to the leadership to make sure the organization is living up to its values. Ensure that the leadership is engaged with the cultural mission. If they’re not, you might have bigger problems on your hands.