What Is Company Culture? How to Develop Company Culture | Best Executive Search Firm | Cowen Partners

      5 Elements of Company Culture

      Company culture is built around shared values as well as the characteristics of an organization. Strong company culture is beneficial because it helps employees understand expectations and act to meet those expectations.

      Some businesses let the culture develop naturally whereas other organizations make a concerted effort to cultivate culture. It’s difficult to develop company culture, however, if you don’t understand what company culture is or what it consists of. The five elements of company culture you can use to shape your own business include

      1. Core values
      2. Performance
      3. Structure
      4. Atmosphere
      5. Attitude

      Below is a deeper discussion of each element that comprises company culture.

      1. Core Values

      A clear mission and vision statement is an easy first step to shaping company culture. A mission and vision statement clearly defines your company’s core values. Your company may value innovation and new ideas, a competitive spirit, or being able to deliver results. By definitively stating the core values, employees know exactly what the business is trying to achieve and what kind of results they should strive to provide. 

      2. Performance

      If you want a company with high impact, you need to make sure performance is integrated into your company culture. Setting clear expectations and openly communicating about how performance will be tracked can go a long way to developing a company culture that values performance. For example, regular performance reviews, meeting etiquette, and timeliness can all impact how employees behave on a day-to-day basis. When employees know their work is being reviewed regularly and that they’ll receive an assessment from leaders, they’re more likely to try harder at work. 

      3. Structure

      The decision-making process in a company needs to be clear, with an established hierarchy. A clear structure is beneficial to employees because it improves workflow. Employees know who needs to sign-off on which tasks as well as which decisions they can make on their own. Removing ambiguity within teams and department leadership can save people a lot of time and confusion when completing work tasks. It’ll also give employees the confidence they need to finish projects in a timely manner. 

      4. Atmosphere

      The atmosphere of a company is very important, but it’s also one of the easiest aspects of company culture to get wrong. Company atmosphere encompasses levels of professionalism, business traditions, and employee inclusivity. The mistake a lot of organizations make is getting too comfortable in their ways. The atmosphere becomes stagnant and the business struggles to keep growing.

      It’s important to check the company atmosphere on a regularly basis to ensure professionalism standards are being met by all levels of leadership. The hiring team should also be reviewed to ensure the company’s hiring practices are inclusive and diverse. No team, department, or leadership level should be left out of this assessment. If you want your company culture to flourish, everyone needs to participate.

      5. Attitude

      Company culture can even influence employee attitude. Motivators like leadership boards and sales rewards can create a competitive attitude among employees while an office softball team can create an attitude of collaboration and teamwork. Integrating different mechanisms like team sports or internal competitions can engage employees and build the company culture you desire. However, make sure the activity you provide promotes the type of attitude and culture you’re trying to build. 

      How to Develop Company Culture

      After you’ve reviewed all the elements of company culture, identify programs and policies you can implement to promote the type of workplace you wish to create. Be sure to look at all aspects of the organization from hiring practices and onboarding methods to performance reviews and recognition efforts. Note areas that can be improved as well as how you can adjust current practices to reflect your ideal culture. 

      It’s also a good idea to collect employee feedback on the matter. Leadership can often have a different view of the company culture than the employees. Request transparent feedback to learn exactly how people feel about the company culture. Once you have the reviews, be sure to take action on the feedback. If a number of employees expressed dissatisfaction with manager feedback methods, create a new assessment tool and train supervisors how to properly conduct a performance review. Employees will appreciate the opportunity to have their voices heard and will feel valued when changes are implemented.

      Building a strong company culture takes time and teamwork.  As you work through the five elements of company culture, remember to regularly gauge employee sentiment. You can’t improve the culture in a bubble, so make sure everyone is involved in the culture development process.

      National Executive Search Firm | How We Help


      Our hands-on executive recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – some include CEOChief Operating OfficerChief Financial Officer, and include vice presidentgeneral counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.

      Learn how we deliver top talent, no matter the need, with our industry-leading research and resources. Discover the strategy that made Cowen Partners the top retained executive search firm in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond.

      Get in Touch.

      Fill out the email request form to learn more about our approach.