The Missing Element of a Successful Company Culture

3 min read · 7 years ago


Running a company is a challenge. Part of this challenge is supporting the customers, selling a product and managing the employees who make it all tick. Often though, most businesses don’t place much importance on company values.

More often than not, most values are expressed through mission statements drawn up by somebody from the marketing department. Does anybody from the company actually bother to read them through? More importantly, does anybody in the company actually abide by them?

There’s a difference between having a set of values and actually following through on them. It’s that last part that really defines a company and motivates its employees to not only do better, but have a greater sense of purpose for their work.

Practice What You Preach

In one case, Charles Revson, former head of Revlon, Inc., required that everybody sign the logbook upon arrival in the reception area. At one point they hired a new receptionist who noticed a man take the logbook and walk away. The receptionist chased after Revson and told him she had strict instructions. He promptly turned to her and fired her, telling her to ask them who he was when she picks up her last paycheck.

In another case there is the story of Tom Watson, former chairman of IBM who was refused entry into one of his own buildings because he didn’t have a security badge. He promptly turned around to go get his badge as he told the other executives in the car, “We make the rules, we keep ‘em.”

Stories like these really show the difference between just having values and living them. Policies should be accepted by everybody in the organization, including the policy makers. Often though, it goes further than just maintaining policies. Creating a company culture is often not something that can be written down or even told.

Creating Culture Through Values

Creating a culture is a work of art, as it requires persistence and undeterred focus towards a common goal. Having a damaged reputation as a leader will hinder the leader’s ability to serve his or her organization effectively.

It’s typically these unspoken norms that truly define employees’ behavior. Finding situations where employees adopt behavior or perform noble acts are stories that should be spread throughout the entire organization. This will not only encourage similar behavior, but create a new level of camaraderie that couldn’t be achieved by simply working together.

It’s important to never underestimate the true value of establishing a company culture. A respected leader is vital to the success of any organization. Employees may do their job, but they will perform it with a greater sense of purpose if they believe in the work they’re doing. Respected leaders who not only live by their policy, but create a culture by their actions will find their employees more content with their work.

The first step to achieving this is having a set of core company values. Instill these in every existing employee so they know how they should be working. Sometimes company values super-exceed company policy. Having known values will create a better work environment and lead to increased customer satisfaction for a long-term growth strategy.

As they say, actions speak louder than words. If you abide by your company values, others will pick them up as well. All of this leads to a team that works more efficiently and with greater vigor to help feed the bottom line.

Cody McLain, CEO of WireFuseMedia LLC, built his first company in middle school and sold it when he was 18. He has gone on to start several other ventures and is now focusing on building a personal brand. He also enjoys flying planes, traveling around the world as a photographer, and is writing his first book.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.