Workplace culture can mean a lot of things. For most of us, it just means what life is like at work. For Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, it meant one of the most resounding successes of his career. An initiative to turn around Microsoft culture resulted in a company turnaround and the most profitable period in Microsoft history. HR is full of sayings like “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, and for good reason. Your work floor culture is where change and work actually happen.

Taking the time to develop a workplace culture that meets your organization’s needs will help your organization to achieve strategy and goals. These five tips to foster a workplace culture will help you get there.


Create Processes for Open Communication

Communication is one of the most important aspects of corporate culture. If people cannot communicate well, they cannot communicate at all. Fostering a culture of communication means working to tear down silos, building cross-functional teams, tearing down waterfall management, and creating flatter hierarchy. You can also take steps like:

  • Offering emotional intelligence training
  • Moving managers partially into the role of coach and mentor
  • Creating workplace conflict mitigation strategies
  • Moving individuals when they don’t fit the culture of their teams
  • Moving individuals who work together into the same tooling

No matter how large your organization is, people should feel comfortable sharing with each other. This includes meetings, retrospectives when creating ideas, when attempting to make changes, and when they have conflict. You should have processes in place to encourage this.


Establish Company Vision

Most organizations have a defined vision statement but few manage to link it to goals and day-to-day work. If your organization works using Scrum or Agile, you can relatively easily achieve this by linking vision to epics, which then go on to influence stories and everyday work.

Why does this influence culture? If individuals know how even tiny work items they complete on a daily basis fit into the greater puzzle of achieving a goal, they’ll be much more motivated to do that work and do it well because it has a purpose.


Make Performance About Teams

Performance review and analysis often focus on individual performance, which can be a mistake. Switching focus to team performance, rating teams based on their total productivity, and rewarding teams together encourages teamwork, removes negative elements of competition, and ensures everyone knows they have to work together. While you still want to review people on an individual level, it’s important to reward people as a team or squad, so that they are motivated to work together.


Empower Individuals to Own Their Own Work and Processes

Most organizations hate the 9-5 mentality, but the waterfall and other hierarchal work frameworks encourage it. Encouraging people to be passionate about their work often means giving them ownership, even when that ownership is of something relatively small. For example, a team could be asked to create, update, and maintain their own work processes. Teams could be allowed to choose their own software. Teams could have total ownership of a module or work item, and the freedom to achieve goals for it in whatever way they want.

Giving ownership offers empowerment because people are more passionate, dedicated, and creative when they own products and decisions.


Recognition and Development

Recognition and reward are important aspects of performance management and motivation. It’s important to create processes so that individuals and teams are given frequent opportunities to receive recognition and reward, as well as development. This can take the form of offering leisure activities or amenities, it can take the form of setting aside space in team standups to highlight good work, and it can take the form of highlighting gaps and asking people to step into development. Development should tie into both reward and resolving poor performance so that even poor performers have the chance to improve and continue to grow. Cultures that revolve around recognizing success but being aware of failures or gaps and constantly improving even when already on the top are the ones that most often succeed.


Workplace culture will impact productivity, how people work together, creativity, innovation, and much more. These steps will help you to create a culture that meets those needs.