Home CommunityContributors The Five Elements of Great Organizational Cultures

The Five Elements of Great Organizational Cultures

by Andy Cabistan

It may be the best time in the history of “work”. Thanks to the advancement in technology and instant access to information, the younger generations are more mission driven and intentional about the way they develop their careers. Companies with great cultures will be the ones to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

To keep and attract that high-caliber talent, companies need to build and sustain great organizational cultures. To do this, there are five essential elements organizations should address: purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership.

Let’s look a little deeper into each of them.

Purpose: Young professionals want to be a part of solving a problem greater than themselves, so they need to understand the “why” of what they do. A strong mission statement can help a company articulate its’ “why”. For example, the mission statement of SpaceX is: “SpaceX was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.”

Ownership: Ownership refers to the practice of giving people the opportunity to be accountable for their results without requiring micromanagement, and giving people the autonomy on their own time to accomplish goals.

Basecamp is a company that builds software for project management. They are a great example of a company that promotes ownership. They have a physical office, but allow employees to work remotely. The CEO doesn’t know how many hours employees work. Managers set overall expectations and allow people to build their own schedules around their projects.

But how do you keep people engaged with a sense of purpose? Well, you do that through the third element: community.

Community: This is that sense of belonging to a group of people that shares similar principles, goals, and values. Community is a place where there is camaraderie.

Focus Lab is a branding and design agency. They have company standards instead of values. Their argument is that you can’t change a person’s values when they walk into your company, but you can keep everyone accountable to specific standards. Those standards include: work to live, ask more questions, and never stop learning.

Building community can be as simple as hosting company events, designating specific hangout times, and even planning team trips. 

Effective Communication: Effective communication sounds like common sense, but is not such a common practice. It means ensuring consistency in processes and investing time to learn the personalities and communication dynamics of team members.

Google did a research project called Project Aristotle, where they found that the most collaborative teams are the ones where everyone speaks equally and often interacts with one another. Within many of their teams, they count to be certain that everyone is speaking the same number of times during their meetings. How people interact in a team is just as important as who is on the team.

Good Leadership: The backbone of the cultural dynamics of any organization, the leader has to constantly be pushing the mission, standards, community, and processes of the company. Without effective leadership, the other four elements cannot thrive.

People want leadership with integrity and compassion. People want authenticity. People want a leader who is clear on expectations. People want to know they have a leader who cares about them.

The elements I just mentioned are not new. People have always liked purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership. It’s in our own human nature. But now we have realized we must focus on these standards to build high-performing cultures. It all comes down to being intentional about creating a company that will be sustainable and successful in the long-term.

Andy Cabistan is one of the founders of Watson Works, a culture development company helping teams communicate and collaborate better. He is passionate about helping organizations with diverse groups of people build high performing teams. In his spare time, Andy travels around the country with the Department of Defense developing leadership programs with children of military families. Contact Andy at andy@watsonworks.co.

You may also like