Module 5 ~ Lesson 7

Lesson 7: You Already Have a Culture – You

Culture is one of the most misunderstood components of a business. Most leaders spend countless hours discussing and then implementing a plan to create culture.  That process always fails.  Always.

The simple fact of the matter is that culture starts at the top.  Your vision, policies, integrity and leadership skills form what everyone else in your organization responds to and interacts with.  So make no mistake about it, you already have the foundation of what your culture will be.

Take some time to let that sink in. 

The only way for you to change or create culture is if you are 100% behind, believe, and can walk your talk.  Period.

There are two things that people often equate with culture and it is critically important to understand the difference:
1.    Do not confuse culture with morale
2.    Do not confuse culture with the environment
Culture is NOT:
  • Karaoke nights
  • Holiday bonuses
  • Bean bag chairs
  • Catered lunches
  • The gourmet coffee bar
  • Secret Santa gift exchanges
  • Ergonomic chairs
  • Standing desks
  • Contests, etc

Not a thing wrong with any of these things. As a matter of fact, they’re great; however, they are not company culture.

While we are talking about what culture is not, do not confuse your written mission, vision, core values statements as your culture either.  Often companies will build the mission to identify their culture when it should be done in the exact opposite manner.  You must identify your culture and then build your mission, values, etc.  Once complete, Everyone.  By the way, everyone in the organization includes you!

Now that we have covered what culture is not, let’s talk about what it is.  We believe that it is the underlying basic principles that are present and woven through everything in your company. From customer service through marketing, employee recognition through the product you deliver, vendors through to family members.  Everything.

There are many places where your culture will show up:

  1. First and foremost, your culture should appear on the faces of your team and you should hear it when they talk about the company and you
  2. Interaction and feedback from your clients
  3. As we mentioned above, your values – those you state with words and especially those you exhibit through your actions
  4. Your company’s big “why!”
  5. Your hiring, firing, and promotion criteria – the reasons you bring people onto the team, the reasons you let them go, and the reasons you promote/reward them
  6. Lastly, how you feel about what you’ve created


Great Culture is your recruiting, attraction and retention secret weapon!

The most successful organizations have employees who are living the culture and can share it along with the vision of the future.

“Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.”  -Tony Hsieh

Cultivation of Your Company | Team Culture

  • Only hire people that fit your culture. Does the team member share the core, common beliefs of the organization?
  • Ensure team members clearly understand and are in alignment with your team/company values and vision
  • Truly embrace the team concept that you are not a bunch of individuals
  • Acknowledge that good ideas and decisions can come from anyone
  • Recognition of a job well done
  • Consistent performance reviews – people like to know how they are doing
  • If applicable, give your employees a career path for growth
  • Think about your culture every day. Check yourself.  Make sure that you are not getting too busy or to detached from the day to day to keep it in check.  Remember – YOU are the culture.

Be mindful that the culture you build will be your ultimate legacy.  Make it last.

Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility

The actual company values are shown and proven by who gets promoted or released. They are demonstrated by the behaviors and skills that are valued in fellow employees. Netflix values these nine behaviors and skills:










The Keeper Test that every manager asks:

“Which of my people, if they told me they were leaving, for a similar job at a peer company, would I fight hard to keep at Netflix?”

The Culture of Zappos

Zappos hires according to cultural fit first and foremost. It has established what the company culture is, and fitting into that culture is the most important thing managers look for when hiring. This promotes the culture and happy employees, which ultimately leads to happy customers.

“We formalize the definition of our culture into…10 core values at Zappos. And one of the really interesting things I found from the research is that it actually doesn’t matter what your values are, what matters is that you have them and that you align the organization around them. And the power actually comes from the alignment not from the actual values….  – Tony Hsieh

If you have not already done so, go to the Module 4 Overview page and download the Workbook, Slide Decks, and all related Documents for this module.

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