5 Elements of a Great Workplace Culture

September 02, 2022
5 Elements of a Great Workplace Culture

Mike Zani, CEO of The Predictive Index, a leading HR data science company, revealed that “82% of companies don’t believe they recruit highly talented people, and for those that do, only 7% think they can keep them,” according to the Annual CEO Benchmarking Report 2019.

Recruiting the best candidates is challenging. We are amid the Great Resignation; therefore, building an attractive culture with inviting core values is a winning move.

From Dan Coyle’s book, The Culture Code, building great cultures to attract and retain the best talent boils down to five key areas:

  1. Connect

The winningest coach in the NBA, Gregg Popovich, connected with his teams through food, caring personal questions and comments, and by looking forward much more than back. Alan Mulally, former CEO of Boeing and Ford, says that he spent his leadership time in each organization “loving them up and holding them to the standard”.

  1. Reflect

Taking the time to consider before and after a project is a tenet of successful team cultures like Navy Seals, Pixar, and many others. Each has a process to focus on candor delivered in a psychologically safe and courageous environment.

Here are two examples:

  • AARs. After Action Reviews – A structured review or de-brief process, originally developed by the U.S. Army, to analyze what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better.
  • Braintrust – A pre-movie release process established by Pixar to put smart, passionate people in a room together, charge them to identify and solve problems, and encourage them to be sincere.
  1. Protect

Ensure everyone feels safe to speak up, disagree, propose “off the wall” ideas, and admit mistakes. Encourage candor – smaller feedback, more targeted, less personal, less judgmental, and equally impactful— easier to maintain a sense of safety and belonging in the group.

  1. Respect

Hire well and remember that humans are flawed, unique, motivated, and resilient. Create an environment where you are not necessary to help the team address problems and manifest excellence. Compassion, understanding, and holding onto the belief that everyone operates with positive intent are key.

  1. Inject

Leaders are deliberate when it comes to embodying, infusing, and reminding the team of behaviors that will transport the company to where we want to be. These are often the core purpose, core values, and objectives.

The combination of these five propels the ordinary to the extraordinary. Creating a culture where the focus is on supporting each other, in hopes of delighting customers, guides every team member. It also attracts customers that share your cultural values, reinforcing belonging by reminding the best-led teams that we are all connected, safe, and invited to show up courageously.

Core values (CV) are discovered, not decided upon. They are the stories told in the company about the day-to-day unsung heroes. Strong leaders retell these CV stories to inspire and guide employees. Great companies build on these CV stories into their recruiting and onboarding processes for new employees and clients.

It’s important to live your culture and core values. Utilize your company’s core values as a navigational guide to make the best decisions for your business; whom to hire, what type of incentive systems to implement, which customers to serve, which services/products to offer, and what geographies to enter. Think of your core values as something buried deep within your company that requires unearthing. Looking at past decisions and behaviors will reveal the values that already exist. These are not an idealized aspirational list, rather they are alive and visibly used in day-to-day decision making.

What can you do to unearth your core values and build a compelling and desirable culture to attract and retain top talent?

Grupo Guayacán is a non-profit organization founded in 1996. It offers a series of training and business development programs for businesses in different stages of growth. Its best-known programs include I-Corps PR, the EnterPRize competition, and the Guayacán Venture Accelerator. For more information about upcoming announcements, as well as other Grupo Guayacán programs, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also visit guayacan.org or write to info@guayacan.org.

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