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Q&A Video Series: Company Culture with Anna Masheter

Posted in Company Culture, Training & Development on Aug 12, 2023 by Keeley Edge

Company culture is so much more than a motivational quote on the office wall. It’s ‘how we do things around here’. It’s atmosphere, attitude, values, reputation. And it can make or break a business and its staff.

This month’s guest, Anna Masheter, runs her own training and development service, Beyond Learning. Anna has delivered her Management Essentials course to scores of managers and leaders to equip them with the tools and techniques they need to manage and grow their companies’ biggest assets – people. Anna talks to us about what company culture is in theory and in practice, and reveals just how important it is to get right.

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When we talk about company culture, what do we mean and why is it important?

Company culture can be described as the shared attitudes, beliefs, values and standards that make up our working environment. Put simply, it’s ‘the way we do things around here’. It’s what you see, hear and feel in a workplace; the behavioural norms that exist within a business that could either help or hinder an organisation.

Driving a positive company culture can help people feel included, collaborated with, help them feel safe and supported. A toxic work culture is a place where it’s normal for colleagues or managers to undermine each other, gossip, bad mouth and bully people. It’s not a solution-focused place of work and can be very destructive for the business and its staff.

A good company culture is important because if people feel supported, included and respected, they contribute to the success of the business and will likely be loyal to the business. Having a good reputation can also help draw top talent to your firm when recruiting. Bad company culture can make retaining staff very difficult, increase staff turnover and reduce job satisfaction, affecting mental health, productivity and the bottom line.

So what part do leaders and managers play in driving the culture of a business?

Managers and leaders are role models. Most team member look to their manager as an example of the cultural norms of the business. So leaders can’t just talk the talk when it comes to company values, standards and attitudes. They have to walk the walk, too. Managers need to be really clear about what those company values mean in practice and be able to demonstrate and uphold them every day.

If a business wanted to develop its culture, where would they start and what factors are key in implementing it successfully?

For start-ups, the ideal scenario is to set out what you want your culture to be like from the beginning. Focus on what you want the culture of your new business to look like to achieve your mission, your vision and help you deliver what you’re bringing to the world. It’s not often that easy, because new companies tend to focus on developing products and services, and acquiring new customers.

The culture of most businesses evolves organically. This can be why it’s important to review company culture every once in a while. It’s a good idea to do this collaboratively. Bring together team members and managers from all departments and ask them what they’re proud of, what are the behaviours they see in each other that make it a good place to work and how does that behaviour serve the clients? Then do some analysis around what these behaviours and attitudes distil down to until you have a set of values that represents your company culture.

It's important to help people understand what these values look like in practice, otherwise they become meaningless. Perhaps add descriptions and examples of each value to show what these attitudes, beliefs and behaviours look like in the real world.

What are your top three tips for creating a great company culture that benefits the business and the people that work within it?

  • Engagement: Bring people together, get them involved in creating the company values so that they have a sense of ownership and responsibility around them. Larger organisations might have values champions to represent the workforce in developing company culture.
  • Expectations: This is about whether the expected values and behaviours are the same or different across all levels of the business. Consider whether you would expect the same attitudes and behaviours from your managers as you would from team members. If they differ, you may have different levels to your values or competency framework.
  • Implementation: To help you implement and uphold a positive company culture, consider linking your values and competency framework to your reward and recognition strategy, your appraisals and performance reviews. If you don’t, you might risk rewarding or praising people only for the tasks they perform, regardless of their behaviour. And if their conduct is in any way negative, it’s harder to address that unless rewards and reviews are linked to company values.

How do you suggest a company avoids homogeneity in their workforce while upholding company values and recruiting accordingly?

It’s important not to create a team of robots who all think, look and act the same, as that’s inauthentic and unfair. It’s also bad for business because you need different ways of thinking and acting to solve problems and come up with the best ideas. Values need to be practical, so that there is some flexibility in how they’re demonstrated, and so that they’re not attached to one type of person.

We have loads of great articles, blogs and Q&As on issues relating to company culture here:

Anna works with managers and leaders to create practical interactive programmes that help people make a difference. She loves working with businesses to help them and their people achieve more success together.

You can find out more about how Anna can help you and your team on the Beyond Learning website:




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