Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

Mary’s Weekly Articles and Valuable Tools

Subscribe below and get Dr. Mary Kelly’s
weekly newsletter in your inbox.


Who-Comes-Next-Book-2 awards

How can You Do a Better Job with Your Workplace Culture?

Even if you are not the top person in your organization, you can positively impact corporate culture. What makes a happy and productive workplace? Where do you start?

While your company is unique, the most effective culture for your workplace will likely share many of the same characteristics as other happy and productive workplaces.


A successful company culture generally includes:


1. Clear core values. Most successful workplace cultures share a set of core values that are clear to all employees. What are your company’s values? What do you commonly espouse to your teams? Some common values are:

  • Innovation
  • Honesty
  • Responsiveness
  • Integrity
  • Compassion
  • Results
  • Customer satisfaction
  • High quality

For more on how to strategically develop your organizational values, please refer to My Personal Strategic Plan found Here: 


2. Respect. Everyone should be honestly valued and respected at work. Everyone is part of the team. Everyone brings talents, skills, abilities, and experience to work, and that needs to be respected at all levels, by everyone. Respect is an important part of workplace culture. Employees who feel disrespected quickly become unproductive and unhappy. The quality and quantity of their work suffers.

3. Communication. Open communication within the company fosters greater success. Have regular communication at all levels. Company-wide meetings can be highly effective if logistically possible.

4. Inclusivity. Everyone is the same as everyone else, except where we are different. Cars are also the same as every other car on the road, except where they are different. Those differences are the reason you drive the vehicle you do. People are the same. The differences between people is where the magic happens. The world would be a very dull place if we all thought the same way, acted the same way, and had the same ideas.
Great leaders actively solicit people who think, act, and create differently to strengthen their teams.

5. Alignment. The values match the business and the employees. Banking is a traditionally conservative business culture, which is reflected in how people dress in the financial world. It might be hard to make a culture of jeans and golf shirts work, even on casual Fridays. People want to trust their banks, and that culture has evolved to employees dressing more formally. On the other spectrum, a high-tech company might struggle to find the right employees if it demands that employees adhere to a strict dress code. Can you imagine everyone at a tech startup wearing a suit to work?

6. Accountability. Reliability and accountability need to seamlessly flow from the top to the bottom. Everyone needs to be held accountable. In many companies, people look the other way when an executive fails to abide by the culture or rules of the company. This causes resentment and decreased morale.

7. Employee recognition. Positive work cultures give employees recognition for their accomplishments. This can take the form of monetary awards, additional days off, group lunches, small gifts, company swag, or even just a public accolade in an email or company newsletter. Regardless of the size of your company, find a way to recognize employees when they do something exceptional.

8. Keep the employee’s goals in mind. Some employees have the dream of working in a cubicle for the rest of their lives. Some want to advance and take on more responsibilities. Almost 80% of employees claim that they want to be personally and professionally developed. Your dream is not their dream. Make sure, as a supervisor, that you know your employees’ goals. It is important to find ways to help your employees progress forward in things that are important to them.

  • Every manager should know his employees’ goals, whether it is to learn a new software program, move into a sales job, or become an executive down the road.
  • Strong company cultures support employees in the pursuit of their goals.
  • Great corporate cultures provide a variety of training and educational opportunities for everyone on their teams.

Mary’s note: Some companies tell me that they do not provide training and development for their people because their people have not asked for help. I would like to provide a gentle reminder to leaders and managers – people do not know what they do not know. Help them explore their possibilities and potential. That is part of your job – to lead your people and help them develop.

9. Employee feedback. Ask for and use employee feedback. You cannot be everywhere at once, and you do not know the absolute best way to perform every job in your company. Your employees have all kinds of knowledge, and it is wise to listen to them. What ways can you encourage your employees to provide regular feedback on how things are going from their perspective?

10. Transparency. This is part of your communication strategy. Be as transparent as possible. The old-school mentality, “You don’t need to know anything beyond what you need to know to do your job” is dead. Keep employees in the loop and be respectful. They can handle the truth. What they cannot handle is uncertainty, vague statements, and a lack of information.

11. Consistency. Consistency means the standards apply to all employees and all the time. If something was okay yesterday, it should be okay today. During a crisis, challenge or change is when people need consistent, reliable leadership.

Give these items some thought when crafting your own culture. Think about how you can strengthen your workplace culture. What works best for you, your employees, and your customers?




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *