September 24, 2020

How to Build a Positive Culture in Your Organization

Companies with toxic culture are being called out. Don’t let yours be among them. Here’s how to build a positive culture in your organization.

From The California Business Journal Newswire.

Organizations that have an engaged company culture have 26% less employee churn, 15% higher productivity, and 20% less employee absence. Customers love it too with 30% greater customer satisfaction. No wonder these companies experience a 65% higher share-price return.

Companies with a toxic culture are being ousted. Positive company culture is great for employees, investors, customers, and society too. Read on to learn how to build a positive culture in your organization.

Shared Purpose

If you can’t answer questions about what your organization is there for, it’s going to be difficult to engage people in this shared positive culture. It’s worth spending time with the whole team working out how the purpose can be a shared one.

A purpose that simply focusses on making money for investors is not one that is engaging for everybody in that organization. There’s more to the rationale for a company’s existence than making money.

Explore the difference the company makes to the lives of its stakeholders. Investors, employees, customers, and the community that the company is located in could all be beneficiaries of the company. Can they be part of its purpose?

Employees need more than their pay for their work, to fully engage. They need a sense of purpose.

Clear Vision

If there isn’t a clear vision about where the organization is going that is shared by the employees then don’t be surprised if people don’t pull together. Even if there is a commitment, a lack of clarity about direction can lead to people pulling in different directions. With that wasted effort comes frustration, negativity, and lack of engagement.

Role Definition

In any team, being clear about roles helps coordination. If we each have a clear definition of the tasks we are assigned, there’s less chance that things will be duplicated or left undone.

Duplication can lead to conflict and even redundancy. People get territorial and protective about their patch. This fear that a person’s job might be surplus to requirements detracts from any attempt at positive culture building.

Promote Responsibility

Having the autonomy to make decisions and take responsibility for them is both motivating and exciting for employees. Empowering people to do the right thing brings out the best in people. It’s this freedom to act that frees people to be positive and proactive.

Having to check decisions with a superior or to have to go to a committee for approval is stifling. It inhibits people, making them fearful of getting it wrong. What’s the satisfaction in simply following the instructions of other people?

Taking responsibility allows you to grow, contribute, learn, and achieve. These are all positive cultural traits.

Better Communication

Poor communication is often at the heart of poor organizational culture. It is the cause of many employee frustrations.

Developing good communication skills means that managers are clearer about directions, can give positive feedback effectively, and engage employees. It allows managers to make an authentic connection with people.

Employee Involvement

Any leader who thinks they have all the answers is deluded. Often, front line people have a unique perspective on the problems and opportunities facing a business. Their ideas can be insightful and creative.

Asking people to contribute their suggestions can produce some great ideas. If adopted the people who have suggested the change are even more committed to making it work. That’s a recipe for a positive culture.

Flexible Decision Making

Sticking to a plan in the face of obvious difficulties can be a negative experience for people. Flexibility and lack of ego allow positive suggestions and solutions to be put forward. This means positive engagement with solving problems rather than office politics, vested interests, and negative culture.

Aligned Rewards

Rewards can often be at odds with the intended strategy. If the aim is to engender a shared teamwork culture where people behave positively towards each other why are so many reward systems divisive.

Salaries and bonuses that reward individual achievement will drive individual performance improvement but at what cost. If teamwork is the goal, then reward team results rather than individual ones. Individual performance can sometimes be achieved at the cost of more positive teamwork.

An individual bonus does not necessarily encourage sharing information, helping weaker team members or collaboration. If everybody benefits then there’s a real incentive to pool resources, help each other and be positive.

Give Recognition

Recognizing the achievements and contributions of people is a huge boost for a positive culture. It’s not just something for managers to do either.

Personal and public approval boosts morale. Anybody should be able to award corporate lapel pins for a job well done. It re-enforces good behaviors and encourages improved performance.

Happy Relationships

Spending time on relationships may not always seem time well spent. There’s always work to be done, customers to serve or problems to solve. Great relationships can make all these other important tasks so much easier.

Understanding each other means employees can work with each other’s strengths. There is less conflict, better collaboration and personal commitment to support each other, even in difficult times.


There has sometimes been an attempt to see people in an organization as either part of the organizational machine or indeed machines themselves. Language like “human resources” or “human capital” has symbolized this tendency.

Recognizing the “humanity” of human resources rather than the “resource” aspect may be an important way into a more positive culture. People need love and respect and to be treated as humans.

Having opportunities for employees to seek counseling for work and home problems is one way of doing this. Realizing the employee is a whole person with a family, other demands, psychological and physical health needs allows the organization to support and engage more.

Leading a Positive Culture

In all of this, the leader’s role is crucial. The leader’s behavior sets the tone. A positive culture starts with the leader.

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