Making Workplace Culture a Strategic Priority


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This month we tackle the topic at the core of the work Galen does with teams and organizations: Workplace Culture. Right off the bat, there’s a general misconception to clear up. Culture is not a buzzword. It is not an intangible thing that we can only hope to get right. Organizational and team culture is absolutely in your hands to be successful or fail at. Build it or break it — it’s yours.

Here’s the deal: Culture is just a buzzword if you don’t know how to build and sustain it from the ground up, which is true for many (most) companies and leaders. Admittedly, this is a huge mountain to climb. The idea of creating and implementing an intentional culture that is embraced, adhered to, and celebrated across an organization by employees is an extremely daunting task.

This month we are going to show you how to stop being a tourist in the world of workplace culture and become an architect. We are going to take the concept from theory to practice and show you how to create something tactical, tangible, and concrete for your team.

It is absolutely possible to impact and affect the way people show up at work and in their roles. The key is to treat culture as a strategic business priority - just like you treat marketing, operations, customer service, and anything else that you want to have success with in business.

Treat culture like a strategic priority. The same way you treat marketing, customer service, operations, and everything you want success with in business.

The problem is so many companies go halfway. They say, “Here’s our mission statement and a list of values,” but developing a culture is defining what those things look like every day in practice and truly incorporating them into the DNA and experience at your company.

The first step to take in building an exceptional culture is to ask as a company, “Do we actually care about culture, and mean it? Are we willing to say that every single person in this organization 100% across the board is accountable to show up and behave in alignment with these values and these behaviors?” Until you’re ready to say yes, culture will remain something you just hope to get right.

In order for your culture to be taken seriously by your people and obtain buy-in, it has to apply to every single person in your organization. This includes tenured employees who have been with the company since the first days, and applies to your front line people no differently than the highest levels of leadership, no exceptions.

You might be thinking, “Well, except Rick - he’s been here since the beginning.” Yeah, actually, especially Rick. You cannot allow exempt status to anyone.

If it doesn’t apply to everyone, it’s meaningless.

Building a culture involves a clearly defined, specific set of guidelines and behaviors that are universally understood and expected of everyone. These guidelines become part of onboarding new employees so they know from day one what it takes to be successful in their role and how they approach their work.

And culture is not a one and done — you don’t just check the box and move on. To sustain your culture, you have to define the ways that it will be reinforced and incorporated into all aspects of your business. If you don’t keep culture top of mind and high priority, it will slip back into status quo and you’ll simply get what you get.

Throughout the month we’ll be diving deeper and providing the tools you need to climb this mountain. Starting week two, we’ll be sharing our Strategic Culture Plan, available for free in May only. This is our tactical, step by step resource of how to create and sustain a successful culture from the ground up. Shit’s about to get real, stay tuned.

Culture is not the weather, it doesn’t just happen. Nobody gets lucky when it comes to culture.

This content was created by Galen Emanuele for the #shiftyestribe. Free leadership and team culture content centered on a new focus every month. Subscribe to the Shift Yes Tribe at