What shapes an organization's culture?

Building and maintaining a corporate culture can happen organically. In such cases various external and internal factors influence and determine the organization’s culture. For example, the prevailing values of the people in the geographic location where the company is based will filter into the organization. So will the values of the executives, managers and workers. Hiring practices as well as workplace expectations and habits will similarly shape an organization’s culture – for good or bad.

However, organizational leaders who are strategic and thus seek to cultivate a culture that embodies certain specific values can do so by implementing policies and procedures that support the culture they desire or bring about culture change.

Experts advise such leaders to craft recruitment strategies, hiring practices and personnel policies that attract and retain workers who exhibit the values and traits they want in their culture, such as making customer service a priority. Hiring managers, for example, can seek out risk-takers at companies that want to have an elite culture. Managers can devise incentives that reward employees for taking risks.

Experts also recommend that business leaders establish workplace rules and encourage practices that support the culture they want. Executives who want a collaborative culture may want an open floor plan with flexible seating so workers feel free to move around and form teams. Likewise, managers who want a casual corporate culture will want a dress code that reflects that.

Executives and managers must also commit to sustaining their desired cultures by modeling the expected behaviors and values. They should adjust organizational policies and procedures as needed to support the desired corporate culture particularly during times of change, such as when integrating an acquired company and its workforce.