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Repair your firm’s culture

Cedric Christie

A great culture is vital to the survival of any company, writes Melissa Daimler for Harvard Business Review.

Have you lost several talented team members lately for reasons you can’t explain? If your answer is yes, perhaps it is time you evaluated your company culture.

A great company culture consists of three elements: behaviours, systems and practices. All of these align with a set of overarching values.

If there are gaps between what your company promises and what your company offers, you have a problem. For example, if your company prides itself on its belief in the importance of work-life balance but expects team members to work late every night and doesn’t offer paid parental leave or flexible working hours then there’s misalignment there.

If your company culture is full of holes, it’s time to review your behaviours, systems and practices.


There are two ways to align behaviours with your company’s values:

1) Be clear. Let’s imagine one of the values that defines your company is teamwork. What behaviour exemplifies the value of teamwork? Does it mean collaborating effectively through helping others? If so, make that clear to your team.

2) Lead by example. It is important your behaviour as a leader aligns with your company’s values. “People watch everything leaders do,” writes Daimler. “If leaders are not exhibiting the behaviours that reflect the values, the values are meaningless”.


There are five systems that are key to your company’s culture:

1) Hiring. You should hire people you believe will be able to adopt your company’s desired behaviours, not just people you like.

2) Strategy and goal setting. Set clear goals and put in place a plan for achieving those goals so that each team member knows what is expected of them.

3) Assessing. Be clear about when and how behaviours will be assessed.

4) Developing. Make sure the questions in your professional development surveys reflect those behaviours your company expects and rewards.

5) Rewarding. What behaviours are required to become a manager, a director or a vice president? If the system of promotion is transparent you can avoid distracting and unnecessary office politics.


Practices include everything from decision making to meetings and performance reviews. What is your decision-making process? How are team members expected to behave in meetings? What should managers talk about in performance reviews?

You need to have clear answers to all of these questions and more, and your practices need to change as your company changes to avoid becoming stale and meaningless.


“Great organisations and leaders know that the culture stuff is the hard stuff,” writes Daimler. It is important to take the time to define what culture means to your company and to work to ensure there are no gaps between what you want your company’s culture to be and what it really is.

Source Article: Why Great Employees Leave “Great Cultures”
Author(s): Melissa Daimler