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3 Key Elements for Cultivating a Great Company Culture


In the first post of our Company Culture Series, we discussed the new and growing significance of company cultures. The point made was that a company’s culture affects everything, from staff recruitment and retention to customer perceptions and engagement.

The key takeaway? Burgeoning, successful companies cannot afford to ignore culture in today’s hyper-competitive environment.

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Understanding The Challenge of Creating A Great Culture

We’ve discerned that creating company culture is crucial in today’s business world; however, where do you even start? How do you build a culture, and how do you make it last?

In this blog, we explore the core of the issue in attempting to define the basic elements found in companies that are considered to be successful in creating enviable cultures. Our upcoming blogs will answer the following questions:

  • What are some examples of companies that succeed and fail at the culture challenge?
  • How do you create and maintain such a culture?
  • What common mistakes are made when trying to build the ideal company culture?
  • What role do hiring and financial incentives play in building the desired culture?

Where To Find Inspiration

ROI Online found a lot of our inspiration on culture in the work of Daniel Pink. I personally apply the wisdom in Pink’s book, Drive, to our digital marketing agency. After evaluating Pink’s views on motivation, which he developed over more than four decades of analysis, I realized the goal is to first understand what drives intrinsic motivation.

Revolutionizing Steam-Age Concepts

Pink provides solid evidence that modern attitudes toward human capital are woefully outdated. He notes the roots of many incentive programs are based on Taylor’s work in the area of scientific management in the early 1900s. That concept focuses on tasks and piecework. It resulted in a primary focus on incentives that encouraged success at increasing productivity and penalties for failure. This is, of course, the carrot-and-stick approach to motivation.

Through his research, Pink sought to solve his “puzzle of motivation.” In doing so, he identified what he calls the importance of the Third Drive, as originally proposed by Professor Harry Harlow in 1949.

We’ll discuss this more at length in the coming posts. However, Pink postulates his Self-Determination Theory based on three innate human drives: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, which are true for businesses of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

These three elements apply to any culture and encourage employees to see themselves as team members by providing:

  1. Autonomy. This is a sense of reality of control over basic aspects of work, including the when, how, with whom, and what of their tasks and responsibilities.
  2. Mastery. Success in this element means providing an environment where team members can learn and develop.
  3. Purpose. Providing a sense of purpose only happens when an employee feels he or she is contributing to some higher and enduring worthy cause.

Creating a strong culture that people believe in is not an easy task. It takes time, and trial and error. Prioritize, focus and communicate. Don’t get wrapped up in making your company a utopian wonderland. It’s about cultivating a culture that breeds loyalty, synergy, and happiness.

In the next blog in our Company Culture series, we’ll take a look at what happens when these three key elements are missing.


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