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Building company culture is a ‘balancing act’

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Culture can be what defines a positive work environment. However, with so many conflicting elements at play, it can be hard to pin down what makes a great culture. This is why the process is a balancing act, where many considerations must be addressed.

According to Adi Janowitz, HiBob’s chief customer officer, transparency and accountability are the keys to achieving a healthy culture. But first, leadership must be considered.

“The first and most important thing that I think about when I’m about to build a culture is to bring in the right leaders. Really, you hire for culture. You don’t bring people on board and then tell them what the culture is about. Culture is something you discover; you can’t create it from scratch, and once you have the right people on board, you can nurture it, and you can support it,” said Janowitz.

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Once strong cultural leadership is established, transparency and accountability can be addressed. “When I think about a culture of transparency and accountability, I really take it seriously to hire the right people to do that. And I call them culture builders,” Janowitz explained.

“A culture builder is passionate, first and foremost, about people. Because that means you know that ability to build a team to be passionate about, you know, caring and about succeeding to achieve the bigger goal together and so on, goes a long way to as you scale because it’s very hard to scale culture.”

Through a culture builder, organisations can begin to develop trust, which, according to Janowitz, is the culmination of transparency and accountability.

“When I think about trust, I think about the combination of transparency and accountability. They are the foundation for building trust within an organisation. Researchers show that it’s 50 per cent more productive when there’s transparency in an organisation,” she said.

Using data and analytics can be a great way to help determine these aspects: “Everything’s measurable. And when everything’s measurable, it’s very easy to define accountability. I’m a people manager, and I enjoy building the community and working together with my team. I can very easily get drifted into not focusing on the actual targets of the business, but we are a business, and we want to not just succeed but reach exceptional results, and the way we do it is through clear KPIs.”

“So, in an ideal organisation, I would say OKRs (objectives and key results) are run from the top and they create that focus and alignment as well as coherency between the team. [OKRs make it] very easy to identify the joint KPIs we’re working towards, which I think is critical to avoid conflict between departments.”

As with many things in life, building upon culture is a balancing act. Juggling effective leadership with accountability and transparency may seem daunting, but it is essential to operating smoothly.

You may have a leader who is excellent at their day-to-day role but isn’t very effective at dealing with people. On the other hand, you may have a powerful people leader who isn’t technically proficient. This is where balance comes into play and where a happy medium must be met.

Janowitz concluded: “Life is all about a balancing act, right? A top performer can impact the business less than a good team builder [who] can build a team that is performing better. So, it is a balancing act.”

RELATED TERMS

Culture

Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.