Cultural Development in the Modern Workplace: Principles, Qualities and Foundation

Creating an enjoyable workplace culture is not easy, but executives who set out to build an environment that is constructive and cohesive, must be based on a foundation of principles.

Bridgewater Associates is prime example of a workplace based on principles; an American investment management firm with more than 1,700 employees who manage about $150 billion for clients around the world. These are their fours principles for cultural development:

  • In order to achieve excellence, the truth must be discernible. The company needs to acknowledge what it would rather not be true as well, so that it can decide how best to deal with this.
  • By being radically truthful and transparent, meaningful work and meaningful relationships can be built.
  • Independent thinking and innovation are traits to be valued. Simultaneously, it must be recognized that independent thinking generates disagreement and innovation requires making mistakes.
  • Every company should thrive to create and support a culture in which it is okay to make mistakes, but unacceptable not to identify, analyze and learn from them.

Leadership Qualities for Cultural Development

Developing an office culture starts with the executives, which is why every leader must have two key qualities for developing and nurturing a teamwork environment: confidence and humility. An equal mix of both is prerequisite for success. When either trait is in excess, an imbalance occurs. Too much confidence leads to arrogance whereas boundless humility creates insecurity. A confident leader has courage, knows when to be assertive and also learns when not to be. Being humble entails patience but it also means stepping up. Cultural development can only be spearheaded by an individual who has these two seemingly opposite characteristics in balance.

Building a Solid Foundation for a Start-up’s Culture

At the early stages of any company, the focus is on results and milestones, but startups would benefit immensely from building a culture from the ground up. The issue is that first-time entrepreneurs don’t think about how team members are engaging with one another. As a result, cultural development is not a priority during the rapid growth phase encountered by many new companies. The outcome of this is the creation of a culture that does not satisfy anyone. Executives are bringing in practices that resemble their former workplace and this means that the startup culture is not customized to suit the new company. Consequently, there may be very little transparency and collaborative decision-making.

Luckily, developing a startup culture is fairly easy to do. Since these companies are small and the work is not that involved, executives can start practicing certain behaviors from the beginning, like regular one-on-one discussions with employees to foster individual relationships.

Executive Advisor, Culture Expert

Whether you are an executive for a billion-dollar hedge fund or lead an emerging startup, an executive advisor from the Sandler Group can help you build a constructive and inclusive workplace culture. Our advisors use a tried and tested process that has helped countless business realize their potential. Call us today at 858.344.6160 or fill out our form to learn more.