Why Managing Your Company Culture Matters

How much time do you spend managing your company culture? If the answer is “not a whole lot,” you could be making a big mistake.

Your organization’s culture, or personality, affects so much—how decisions are made (e.g., unilaterally or collaboratively, slowly or quickly), how conflict is handled, how respectfully (or not) employees treat each other, and mostly—whether your employees wake up wanting to come to work or dreading the thought.

And while it may seem as if culture is something that “just evolves,” that’s not exactly true. Each leadership decision shapes and affects the culture.

In their landmark 1992 book Corporate Culture and Performance, John P. Kotter and James L. Heskitt revealed these staggering statistics (see below) for firms reviewed over a period of 11 years:


Average Increase for 12 Firms WITH Performance-Enhancing Culture Average Increase for 20 Firms WITHOUT Performance-Enhancing Culture
Revenue Growth 682% 166%
Employment Growth 282% 36%
Stock Price Growth 901% 74%
Net Income Growth 756% 1%


The bottom line? Companies that intentionally manage their cultures significantly outperform those that don’t.

Another way to think about company culture is “how we do what we do,” and when you view it that way, it’s not at all surprising that culture can have such a major impact on company growth, in whatever area.

So then, how does a company go about managing its culture?

Here are three brief suggestions, just to get your juices flowing. These suggestions are by no means exhaustive.

Catch a Vision

What do you want your culture to be, and what behaviors, or competencies, will characterize it?


For example, let’s say you want an innovative culture or a culture of learning. Such a culture might include competencies of reasonable risk taking, accountability, and coaching.

Much later in the process, you’ll define these competencies, relate them to specific business and performance goals, and develop ways of enforcing them. For now, however, you just want to get excited!

How would a more performance-enhancing culture improve the way your company looks, thinks, and acts? What could you achieve? Wouldn’t that be great?

Get Senior Leadership on Board

You’ve heard the expression “fish stinks from the head down,” right? (I know, that wasn’t very nice, but it makes the point.)

Well, if you’re convinced that your culture needs a bit of a “do over,” senior leadership has to get on board. If you’re a member of senior leadership, then you’re a step ahead, but you’ll still want to convince all the other major players in your company. Without their support, nothing will change.

Take Inventory

A climate survey (also called a “temperature” or “employee attitude”) survey, can help you determine how employees really feel about your company. Answering anonymously, employees typically will indicate their level of agreement with such statements as “My manager respects me,” “I trust leadership,” “This company is headed in the right direction,” and so on. Surveys can be prepared in house by qualified staff, purchased from a vendor, or prepared and customized by a consultant.

Related: When and How to Hire a Compensation Consultant

Be Consistent and Persistent

Change is hard, and changing an entire company culture is really hard. However, it can be done, if you consistently reward the behavior you want to see and address the behavior you don’t, stick with it, and keep your goals in the forefront, always. Remember, there are big benefits in managing your culture, rather than letting it be hijacked by the most forceful personalities in your organization.

So what are you waiting for?

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