March 30, 2022
Sarah Mathias

How to Build and Maintain Your Company Culture with ThoughtExchange

8 minutes
Organizational culture has gotten a lot of buzz lately. And for good reason. A healthy culture is key to a healthy organization— increasing employee engagement, productivity, retention, a sense of ownership, not to mention your bottom line. And although HR leaders may have been the stewards and keepers of the culture in the past, making company culture everyone's responsibility is essential for getting it right.
“Culture has become a strategic priority with impact on the bottom line. It can’t just be delegated and compartmentalized anymore.”
Source: HBR
Ongoing input from your employees is essential to building a robust and healthy culture. But gathering feedback can be cumbersome and time-consuming. An enterprise discussion management platform like ThoughtExchange can help. Read on for tips.

What is company culture, and why invest in it?

Company culture refers to a company’s shared value system as well as its work environment, mission, and leadership style. According to HBR, “Culture shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways. Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group. When properly aligned with personal values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organization’s capacity to thrive.”

Savvy leaders recognize the importance of building and maintaining a healthy company culture. So instead of making it HR’s problem, they’ve committed to a new culture-building approach, where individuals at their organization play various roles and share responsibility for developing and maintaining it.

According to Forbes, company culture is more important than ever in stressful times, and old-fashioned perks like “catered lunches and nap pods” are no longer cutting it. But leaders can strengthen company culture by building trust, revisiting values, and putting employees first.

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What is High-Performance Culture, and How Do I Create One?

Include your employees in culture building

Ready to improve your company culture? Involve the people who matter with a platform that works. Launch a series of strategic Exchanges to tap into your employees’ collective intelligence and keep the culture-building process relevant. Timely employee input about ways to improve your company culture in addition to continual engagement is essential.

Engage your employees with a series of Exchanges to ensure your culture-building efforts have grassroots support and create a sense of ownership. Exchanges create a safe, open space for employees to share their ideas about what’s working, what’s not working, and what actions the organization should take to build a better culture. Allowing your employees to feedback and shape their organization’s culture creates buy-in, which in turn contributes to a more robust and enduring culture.

Craft a killer question

Killer questions are key to successful Exchanges as they elicit the most diverse ideas. First, think about your goals and what perspectives you’ll need to understand to get there. A good example question comes from Skagit Regional Health in Arlington, WA.
They asked their staff:
What are some perspectives we need to understand as we work together to improve our culture at Skagit Regional Health?
This question invites all kinds of feedback and reinforces the idea that culture is something everyone in the organization has a hand in guiding.
Using a series of Exchanges to explicitly ask for the good and the bad is also useful. Ask questions like:
What are some important things you appreciate about the culture at [Organization’s Name]?
OR
What would you like to see changed about the culture at [Organization’s Name]?
Acknowledging that there’s always room for improvement can go a long way toward building trust in the process and creating a space for candid feedback. This leads us to our next tip:

Embrace all ideas

Unlike conventional surveys, ThoughtExchange generates diverse feedback. While positive, this can present challenges. Before launching your Exchange, have a conversation with participants. Letting them know that you’re open to both positive and negative feedback helps build trust in the process. If participants know you’re willing to accept constructive feedback and turn it into action, they'll appreciate the chance to share their ideas even more.
How to Assess Organizational Culture.
Learn More
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Communicate effectively by sharing information early and often

To prime your culture Exchange participants, develop a complete communications plan before launching. Share information early about why you’re reaching out and what feedback you hope to receive. Also, share your vision about how their insights could inspire real workplace change. This will get participants thinking about what truly matters to them and get them excited about the process. When you launch your Exchange, they’ll participate with enthusiasm.

Follow through on your communications plan with a solid introduction, underscoring the importance of the conversation and the individuals you’re asking for feedback. Consider including a background video to put a face on the Exchange and make it even more engaging.

Put it all together

A series of company culture Exchanges can help participants feel like an essential part of the process, inspire ownership, and contribute to buy-in on your culture-building efforts. Implementing these tips will help make your workplace the best it can be for you and your staff.

Get in touch to see how we can help you create an effective culture Exchange. We’d love to hear from you.

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Want to accelerate culture change in your organization? We’ve got some tips. Check out our post about How to Leverage and Speed up Culture Change.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Sarah Mathias
Sarah discovered her love of words when she penned her first journal in grade 4—she hasn’t stopped writing since. With a BA in Sociology and an MPC in International/Intercultural Communication, Sarah honed her corporate writing skills in the travel insurance and fashion industries before joining ThoughtExchange. She brings her collaborative spirit and commitment to antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with her penchant for grammar jokes.

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