How to Build Company Culture: Step by Step


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Controversial and unpopular opinion: most companies have absolutely no clue what they’re doing when it comes to company culture.

Clarification: It’s not because they don’t care or don’t want to, it’s because they don’t know how to approach the conversation, what conversation to have, and how to create an executable plan. They don’t know how to actually do the work it takes to create and sustain an intentional, embraced, adhered to, and celebrated company culture.

The good news is that there is a way to do it, and this week’s video and blog are a step by step walkthrough of how.

Companies struggle around culture because they don’t know how to approach the conversation, and execute.

And, for this month only, we are dropping our Strategic Culture Plan as a free downloadable resource. Galen uses this with companies he works with as the ultimate guide to walk through the entire process in full detail and execute on culture. It dives even deeper than this post/video. Here’s the link, grab it before it’s gone:

Free downloadable Strategic Culture Plan.

I know this week’s video is longer than usual, but this is the most important work that organizations need to be doing to maximize the performance and engagement of their teams. The return on investment to your company’s bottom line by the impact of having exceptional company culture is immeasurable. Save this, bookmark it, use it to reference as you work through the steps. I promise the time and energy to do this is the most worthwhile investment you can make for your business and your people.

Alright, let’s get into it. The six steps you need to address and work through to create the culture required to win in business:

1. Your driving story

This question addresses your ultimate goals and objectives. What are you all trying to accomplish together as an organization? Why are you in business, why do you do what you do every day? What does every person — regardless of their function, with every task that they do — ultimately contribute to?

2. Your core values

A mission and list of values is not a culture. If you want to impact people’s behavior, surface level platitudes don’t cut it.

And this isn’t just a list of 4-6 idealistic platitudes. More specifically, what behaviors embody those core values in action? With clarity, articulate how your values are lived in real time, day to day, translated into behaviors. So, if Respect is a core value, you might include “We don’t gossip or badmouth other people or departments; we use language to lift each other up, and when we have issues or conflict we take it right to the source.”

3. Employee experience

This is about how you want your employees to feel when they come to work every day. How do you want them to describe their work environment to their friends and family? It’s important.

If you want your people to be exceptional, you have to have an exceptional culture.

4. Traditions and practices

Identify what practices and traditions you’ll put in place to integrate these behaviors and mindsets into the DNA of your team. This can include hiring and onboarding, training and development initiatives, company events, coaching and feedback, reward and recognition programs, the way you start meetings, etc. Determine all of the ways you’ll weave this culture into the fabric of your team to keep it top of mind and part of your common understanding and language.

5. Accountability

Articulate how your team will hold each other accountable to live this culture. What opportunities and language will you put in place to address inconsistencies, and who is empowered to do that? This step isn’t just about consequences and being punitive, it’s really about the commitment level that you’re making to your culture plan.

*Sidenote — if anyone in your organization is going to have exempt status from acting in alignment with your values and this culture, don’t waste your time creating one. Your company culture isn’t marketing collateral or a device to keep your employees in line. If it doesn’t apply to every last person in your company, then it’s a joke. #realtalk

6. Measuring success and feedback

Define what success looks like and how you’ll measure it. Some ideas could include: forming a culture council, scheduled check-ins with your team, or tracking data in interviews and surveys, turnover, customer satisfaction, measurable performance outcomes, etc.

In order to make progress, be accountable, and obtain buy-in, your people must be involved and have ownership in this work. Get feedback from your team on your culture as it exists today vs. where you want to be. Approach this with an open, earnest, curious mind in service of your growth and being more exceptional as an organization. Seek direct, honest, and specific feedback. Have the courage to want to hear things that are difficult to hear, and make improvements based on what you discover.

This work is not a “one & done” process. Nothing you put in place will give you overnight results. You have to put in the work to sustain it, see impact, and keep your culture alive. It will never be perfect, there will always be elements to focus on and improve, and things will evolve and shift over time. It takes courage, commitment, and energy to create an exceptional culture, and the benefits for your people and organization will be worth every second.

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