How you build culture

You don’t build culture within a team/organization by talking about it.

You build culture in three ways –

1. The results you achieve. Results go a long way in creating culture. Consistent high quality work generally comes from a high quality culture. And, on the flip side, if you consistently ship bad work, it doesn’t matter if you have a good culture.

2. How you achieve results. Process comes next. Do you achieve those high quality results by burning people? Or, do you achieve them by stretching and challenging them just the right amount? Is the decision making process dictatorial or is it consensus-driven? All of these processes create culture.

3. Who you fire, reprimand and promote. The final key culture creators or destroyers are the decisions you make around people. When you fire, reprimand or promote people, you send clear signals about what you value. And, if these decisions are aligned with your team’s core values, then you will have created that magical place – a place where the culture is the manifestation of its desired values.

As a wiser friend pointed out, companies and leaders fail most often in getting #3 right. #3 requires you to consistently have the difficult conversations, not tolerate any violation of values, and promote people who perform while being culture ambassadors. This is hard to do.

But, do this right and you build a team/organization that actually does what it says – one of those rare places that can actually claim to have that elusive trait – integrity.