6 Components of Company Culture

Great mondays

By Shelby Jones and Josh Levine [an excerpt from the book Good Mondays]

What does for a workplace to be a place where people not only want to work, but love to work?

It takes a persistent and consistent commitment to designing culture.

*Persistent* because culture is a core business capability. Don’t think of it as this year’s priority; it will certainly be usurped by the next shiny business imperative that comes along.

*Consistent* because the best solutions come from constraints. Designing culture is messy. Imagining, creating and implementing something new is hard, particularly in business. (Just ask any executive who attempted to build an innovation team.) But by having a system in which to work, the tasks become much more understandable. And do-able.

The six-part framework in the book “Great Mondays” can enable leaders at all levels in all types of organizations to imagine, create, and implement a work-life that supports employees, customers, and business.

The framework is a process that builds on its own momentum to become a self-reinforcing system.

Think of it as an upward cycle that will draw in the people who want to help an organization reach its purpose.

The first three components of the framework are about creating the vision for the culture, while the second three components bring the culture to life. Together all six parts create a system to support people in taking an active role in the outcome of how employees feel and are engaged in the organization. It is a system for designing a culture that employees love.

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Purpose > Values > Behaviors >

When looking for work, millennials (and if we’re being honest, all of us) want more than a jobwe all want to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.

This is the premise religion has been using to great effect for millennia.

Purpose Unless a company can identify and articulate why it is in business beyond making money, its purpose, the talented people on the team will seek the next level somewhere else. This is the first component of company culture.

Values are behavioral guideposts that establish how to act on the way to purpose. The second component of culture (Values) should come to life with every decision each person in the organization makes:

  • A product lead should reflect on how they inform a new feature.
  • A line manager needs to mentor with values in mind.
  • And head of people ops needs to not only have her team look for value fit when hiring but consider how the entire interview experience reflects them as well.

Everyone across the organization needs to know what the firm’s values are and how they inform that person’s responsibilities.

Behavior is the third component. Imagine it as the path from where you are today to purpose, where you are headed, and guided by the guard rails of your values. Behaviors set precedents, ensuring each person understands what is expected when they make choices at work.

Together, the first three components provide the trajectory for talent to make better decisions with less oversight. Culture becomes a tool that enables macro- (not micro) management.

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Recognition > Rituals > Cues >

Recognition The fourth component recognition is not new, but no less important. When an individual or team receives appreciation as a result of their efforts, and sees how their efforts have contributed to a larger goal, they feel satisfied and perhaps even motivated to do it again, better.

On the flip side, is there anything more frustrating than putting in the time on a project and not see a result? It’s not long until those disheartening and resentful “why did I work so hard on that?” sentiments start to flood in.

Not only does engagement suffer from insufficient or ineffective recognition, but it can be a drag on resources and momentum in the form of replacement cost. Companies with high rates of employee recognition have 31% lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures[1].

But make no mistake: coffee cards and plaques alone won’t work. There are many opportunities to recognize, and many ways to do it.

Relationships are the synapses of culture; if they aren’t solid and plentiful behaviors begin to diverge between departments, offices, and roles.

Rituals, the fourth component, provide ways for co-workers to build and strengthen relationships at work by inspiring connections across physical and virtual boundaries.

Gallup has demonstrated that those who have a best work friend are seven times more likely to stay longer than those without. Not that everyone needs a best friend in the cube next door, but the statistic shows the power of relationships. Weekly coffee dates, monthly lunch and learns, and annual retreats are just some of the rituals that build and strengthen relationships.

Cues The final component is cues. These are the verbal and behavioral reminders of the organization’s collective ideal future. The most common example is the mission statement on the wall.

This and other tools regularly elevate long-term thinking so that the day-to-day of work doesn’t obscure the “why” of work. Cues are the connection between tactics and strategythe end and the beginning of a holistic system that turns work into meaning and hours into purpose.

Equal parts visual and verbal, Shelby Jones dances between design and strategy at Great Mondays. She delves deep into the research and execution phases of a project. Great Monday is not only her second home but the perfect testing ground for her many company culture prototypes.



Josh Levine is an educator, designer, and author, but above all, he is on a mission to help organizations design a culture advantage. His new book Great Mondays: How to Design a Company Culture Employees Love, will be published in 2018 by McGraw-Hill Education, and presents the framework and tools business leaders need to understand, design, and manage their own culture.

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Simon D’Arcy is a partner at Evolution, where he works with leaders of fast growing growing start-ups and high-growth companies that strive to be iconic, world-enriching entities. He is an executive coach, consultant and leadership mentor with over 20 years of experience assisting leaders and companies on six continents. His work focuses on helping leaders become highly effective culture builders for their teams and companies. Recent clients include Tile, 8i, Slack, Dropbox, Yahoo!, Genentech, and Slack. He is the founder and curator of www.culture-builder.com—a resource for leaders curious about the latest inspiration and insight on culture building. He is also the author of the forthcoming Culture Builders Manifesto.

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