HR and Recruiting

Develop your organizational culture and leadership  

Written by Eric Titner

A critical task for any HR professional is to help ensure that their company’s organizational culture and leadership accurately and effectively reflects its values, beliefs, and mission. How does your company fare in this critical area?

In today’s impossibly crowded business climate, having a clearly developed culture and identity is essential for an organization. According to Inc., “Culture has always been important, but today, it’s becoming more than just a buzzword. Culture is an important differentiator to set your company apart from the competition. It’s also what attracts the right talent and brings in the right customers… Plus, with more than 30% of the workforce now made up of Millennials, according to the Pew Research Center, culture is more important than ever. Millennials want to work for companies that share their same values. They want to feel like their work has a purpose and makes a difference. In short, they want a good culture fit.”

With companies eager to rise above the noise in their respective industries and connect with their target audiences, all in an effort to be successful, a key piece of the puzzle is developing an organizational culture and presence that’s transparent and elicits positive feelings—both from within the company and from prospective customers. Inc. identifies four primary factors why this is so important:

Culture builds brand identity.

Your company’s personality and how your organization is perceived by the world at large help form your brand identity. According to Inc., culture is what tells the world who you are as a brand. “The more your audience understands and identifies with your brand, the more they’ll want to buy from you.” Everyone wants to feel like you’re talking to them personally, and in order to do that, you have to establish a company vibe that people can relate to.

Culture increases loyalty among employees.

Do you want your company’s employees to love coming to work each day and feel a loyalty toward helping fulfill your organization’s mission (beyond their paychecks)? Of course you do, and the best way to make this happen is to help them connect with your company’s core culture. According to Inc., “Companies with a strong culture have employees who like the challenges of their job, get along well with their co-workers and enjoy the atmosphere of the workplace… Culture gives employees a driving goal and purpose for what they do. It connects your leadership team with the rest of the employees and binds them with a set of shared beliefs. Your employees want to feel like they are contributing to something larger than themselves.”

Culture attracts and retains talent.

A company with a strong culture and well-perceived brand identity does not have to work very hard to attract and retain top talent from around the world—rather, it will attract talent to you. Once people are a part of your team, they’ll be energized and continually drawn to supporting your organization’s core goals and mission. It will make your job as an HR professional easier while helping your company to operate at peak levels—a real win-win.

Culture makes advocates out of employees.

When employees genuinely feel good about the work they do and the company they work for, they become effective brand advocates. According to Inc., “It’s true that good talent knows [good talent]. And when your employees are happy with their work, they are more likely to share with others. They’ll spread the word about their positive experience with your company, and you’ll soon gain a strong reputation.”

Hopefully, it’s now clear why having a well-developed organizational culture and supportive leadership structure is important for the health and success of your company. But as an HR professional, how do you affect real organizational change in an effort to develop and maintain your culture? The Society for Human Resource Management recently published an article that discusses the role of HR professionals in the development of organizational culture and outlines key steps you can take to make positive, lasting change.

According to the article, “The key to running a successful organization is to have a culture based on a strongly held and widely shared set of beliefs that are appropriately supported by strategy and structure. When an organization has a strong culture, three things happen: Employees know how top management wants them to respond to any situation, employees believe that the expected response is the proper one, and employees know that they will be rewarded for demonstrating the organization’s values.”

As an HR professional, you play a key role in this cultural development. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “Strategic thinking and planning must extend beyond merely meeting business goals and focus more intently on an organization’s most valuable asset—its people.”

To this end, HR professionals should focus on building a strong organizational culture by:

  • Being a role model for the organization’s beliefs
  • Reinforcing organizational values
  • Ensuring that organizational ethics are defined, understood and practiced
  • Enabling two-way communications and feedback channels
  • Defining roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities
  • Providing continuous learning and training
  • Sustaining reward and recognition systems
  • Encouraging empowerment and teams
  • Promoting a customer-supplier work environment
  • Recognizing and solving individual and organizational problems and issues

Once a strong organizational culture is set in place, HR professionals can do a great deal to maintain the work done in this area, including the following:

  • Mindful hiring practices, including looking at the organization’s vision and mission and conducting cultural fit interviews
  • Onboarding programs that help employees become enmeshed in the organization’s cultural framework
  • Reward and recognition programs that incentivize employees whose behavior supports the company’s values and mission

There you have it—some helpful background on the power of organizational culture and leadership, along with effective tools for building and maintaining your organization’s brand identity. Use the strategies and advice presented here to help set up your company for lasting success!

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.