How to create a successful workplace culture

Rock-paper-scissors
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Winning strategies for building a vibrant workplace culture

David Fuller

Rock, paper, scissors – a game we all remember from our childhood playgrounds. But what if I told you there’s a company department nearby that elevates this simple game into a weekly Rock, Paper Scissors Championship?

Every Thursday, during their lunch break, the department members gather for a few minutes of rock, paper, scissors showdown. The prize? The coveted champion’s coffee mug for the week. The reigning champion proudly flaunts the cup during morning meetings, basking in the glory. It’s a team that knows how to get things done while having a blast.

Culture – a word often tossed around and analyzed. But at its core, it’s simply the expected behaviour in a given environment. It’s the unspoken rules that guide a team. We’ve heard of gangs with a culture of fear, schools with a culture of excellence, and countries known for their culture of hospitality. Likewise, businesses can be labelled with a culture of chaos, drama, greed, bureaucracy, or corruption. And there are those where fun, compassion, and exceptional customer service are the order of the day.

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Photo by Akeyodia

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How we’re perceived is a direct reflection of our collective behaviour in an organization, family, group, or nation.

So, what’s the secret to crafting an exceptional culture in our businesses?

Rock – These represent the goals and expectations of the organization. It’s crucial that team members understand these clearly; otherwise, they might set their own standards, potentially misaligned with the organization’s vision. As leaders, it’s your duty to not only establish these expectations but also to embody them. I’ve always told my staff that our goal was to create a safe, enjoyable, and rewarding work environment. No matter what happened in their personal lives, they could look forward to coming to work. High expectations for how we treat customers, suppliers, and each other were also paramount.

Paper – Failure to acknowledge and reward exceptional performances in a company can inadvertently devalue them. Research shows that companies with fun, healthy, and productive environments outperform competitors by 20 to 30 percent. Moreover, they have no trouble attracting talent because people want to work in such positive settings. However, in larger organizations, it becomes challenging to personally recognize every great achievement. This is where culture steps in. Teams should inherently understand that exceptional behaviour deserves celebration. Systems should be in place to offer praise, financial bonuses, or even trophies for outstanding staff contributions. Authentic recognition is how culture thrives, not just token certificates or plaques that circulate around the office.

Scissors – Time to cut through the noise! Policies and strategies on paper don’t run companies; it’s the actions of the people within them. Just like families, companies emulate the behaviour of their leaders. If leaders preach politeness to clients but exhibit rudeness, dishonesty, or laziness, employees will mirror these actions, shaping the company culture. Culture often hinges on what leaders permit. Leaders who don’t address disruptive words or actions foster a dysfunctional culture. Tardiness becomes the norm if no one calls out consistent lateness. Rude comments endorse a culture of drama. Persistent gossip, poor performance, moodiness, or neglect create cultures of despair. Ignoring uncleanliness signals that messiness is acceptable. By turning a blind eye to unacceptable behaviour, we condone it in our workplaces, ultimately making it the cultural norm.

Creating an outstanding culture doesn’t require a top leadership role or hiring a culture guru. It starts with you. If you desire a fun workplace, infuse it with fun. If you seek excellence, champion excellence. If you want customers to love returning, provide them with compelling reasons to adore your company.

Leadership isn’t about titles; it’s about inspiring others to follow your lead.

Dave Fuller is a Commercial and Business Realtor, an award-winning business coach and business author.

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