Is your corporate culture holding you back? Answer these 5 questions

The difference between an efficacious workplace culture and a bland culture comes down to corporate leadership — specifically, corporate leaders who take the time to explicitly define and promote cultural values.


Few business leaders disagree that a productive, healthy corporate culture is integral to business success. In Harvard Business Review, Bill Taylor recommended business leaders ask themselves these five questions to understand if their culture is propelling their company forward, or holding them back.

  1. Is your talent strategy rooted in your business strategy? "Culture can't just be an assortment of well-meaning [human resources] practices; it has to grow out of distinctive business practices," Mr. Taylor wrote. By aligning talent acquisition to business objectives, an organization can get the right people with the right skills focused on the right initiatives to drive the organization's strategy and accelerate business outcomes.
  1. Does your company work as distinctively as it competes? How colleagues behave and perform in the workplace is linked to how an organization competes in the market. Cultivating employees who care about what they do daily can help a workplace feel like a team. "If you want to energize and elevate how your organization competes, you have to energize and elevate how your people behave," Mr. Taylor wrote.
  1. Can you capture what it means to be a member of your organization? The role of culture is to reinforce a sense of belonging or a shared commitment among colleagues about how they solve problems, share information and deliver experiences. Companies with "the most powerful cultures ... their leaders devote enormous time and imagination to devising" symbols, messages and events that make their organization distinctive.
  1. Is your culture built for learning as well as performance? Inspiring and encouraging individual and community growth can be a powerful tool in building highly successful companies, as well as confident and successful employees. WD-40 CEO Garry Ridge often challenges his colleagues with a simple question: When's the last time you did something for the first time?
  1. Can your culture maintain its zest for change and renewal, even when the company stumbles? It's much easier to maintain high levels of energy and morale at a company that is performing successfully than one that isn't. But the reality of competition today is that long-term success is virtually impossible without short-term stumbles, Mr. Evans said. Cultivating a culture that is resilient in the face of setbacks and disappointments is critical to building a company "that can move and morph with the times." 

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