The Harvard Business Review said it best, “company culture is everyone’s responsibility.” It is first up to the company to develop and cultivate the vision, but the belief isn’t produced within the company until there is conviction in the vision. 

Culture starts with a vision, which drives conviction, which produces belief, and guides behavior, leading to performance

All new hires get their subjective sense of the company culture via how they translate the behavior and beliefs of the company perceived within their own unique belief system. 

It is up to you, as the leader, to hire people that complement your cultural belief system. 


Employees can spot company beliefs almost anywhere, including other people that work for the same company. 

Different areas a company can focus to efficiently translate their belief system are: 

Often, the company wants to get the most out of the employee with the least amount of pay, and the employee wants to get the most pay with the least amount of work. By establishing the above beliefs within the company, you also give the employees more of what they want, which makes them inclined to do the same for you. 


Of course, instilling your beliefs throughout the company extends to the hiring process as well. It starts with recruitment to ensure you hire people that naturally align with your beliefs. Throughout the onboarding and training processes, these beliefs become even more instilled. 

In recruiting, when you put different belief systems together, although they might work together well and be professional, you get conflict. The key is to have a good conflict resolution approach in place to improve communication and mutual understanding. 

Culture isn’t a monolith. It is something that is experienced differently by individuals in a group. Therefore, you will always have some sort of conflict resolution to tend to, whether good or bad. 

All the best companies are open to conflict. They are patient with problems. They allow people to challenge the current beliefs. They are inclusive not just with skin tone but different perspectives as well. 

Only then will you know how someone feels and if their beliefs align with the company’s. In some circumstances, the conflict can help the culture, while others may come from a prideful or polar opposite world view of how to do business. 

As a leader and role model of the intended culture, this is where you step in to decide whether or not the person is a good fit for the company.

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”

– Simon Sinek

Employee retention rates are not only in the best interest of the company but the employees as well. It is in everyone’s best interest to have a reason to keep a good job for an extended time. 

i.e., compounding rates of return. 

As business evolves and progresses, it seems the traditional, department-wide, or company-wide compensation packages are outdated. Now, companies are exploring the benefits of unique compensation packages tailored to each employee. 

Of course, this comes with its own set of difficulties, but here’s how it’s done: 


Compensation is a staple of the interview process, at least for the employee. Everyone wants to know that their company appreciates them before they even accept the offer and begin working. 

It’s how you bring up the package that can change the narrative and attract more employees that want the job for the job.

Start by asking the person how they want to be retained. Give them the floor to tell you what they expect from their compensation package. 

Beginning with a question forces the projected employee to switch gears a bit. Now, you two are having a genuine conversation, one where you strategically develop a compensation package tailored to their wants and needs as well as the company. 

In turn, you get to know your employee a little more, and you’ve also created a package they are likely to remember and appreciate. 

On how NOT to do it.

Not everyone shares the same priorities or values for their work environment.

“I really dislike the hiring managers that did not disclose the known toxicity of their hazardous workplaces to me.”

― Steven Magee

Most companys struggle to describe culture because they don’t trust their perspective. They know they have a bias, especially in great companies.

Additionally, what leaders feel the culture is may not be the same as employees.

Culture must be felt, but it’s not enough to be felt by the staff. People need to see it presented by executives as well.

If upper management and leaders throughout the organization aren’t readily available, the culture and eventually the brand will suffer. 


Building a great culture requires constant nurturing. People have their needs, and the more people you have in a group, the more needs there are to be met. To successfully create an authentic workplace culture, each employee has to enjoy coming to work. They need to feel validated, engaged, challenged, supported, etc. 

As a leader in the company, the gaps or miscommunications in desired company culture ultimately fall back on you. There’s no doubt the stress this causes, but it’s on you at the end of the day. 

Often, candidates go through the hiring process with their own idea of what the job will be like, regardless of how detailed you describe the position and the desired workplace culture. It becomes essentially impossible to detect if the person is an authentic fit for the company based on a few mere conversations. 

Maybe you’re not the one doing the hiring at all. Maybe you are an executive noticing that one of your directors continues to hire people who don’t match the company culture. These people then blame upper management or the brand entirely for their unhappiness when they probably shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. 

How do you come back from this? How do you navigate these pitfalls in an effective manner that continues to display company culture in action?

Fortunately, there are hacks to help anyone improve their workplace culture. 


According to Entrepreneur, Zappos asks all potential employees to complete a “cultural fit interview.” Here is where the company asks the person different questions that pertain some way to their morals and intended culture. The person’s responses give the interviewer insight into their business morals and whether or not they would enhance their company environment. This interview holds half the weight of the entire hiring process. 

They also offer new employees $2,000 to quit after their first week if they aren’t sure this is the perfect job for them. This kind of incentive almost ensures they will find the right candidates to complement their (already outstanding) company culture. 

Here are a few tips to help make your company’s culture not only translatable but manageable. 

  1. Put Trust in Your Staff
    1. Employees who feel independent in their work will grow more, leading to company growth. 
  2. Budget For It
    1. Many companies now include culture in their monthly budget because although culture isn’t about “things,” sometimes it takes money to create memories that last. 
  3. Promotions
    1. Give promotions only for increased capability rather than office politics. 
  4. Have You Tried Going Flat?
    1. Flat organizations have little to no levels in management. Everyone is perceived to be on the same playing field. However, this doesn’t tend to work as well for larger corporations with lots of staff members.

A company is only as unique as the workplace culture that created it. At the end of the day, no one can really tell you how to create an authentic company culture because it wouldn’t be authentic. However, these tips can definitely help guide you along the way. 

Culture – in business – is how we manage the process of negotiating values, and it all begins with the vision. As a leader, you never intend to have a toxic culture, and no leader necessarily believes their culture style is toxic. It is all quite subjective in reality. Finding the candidates that align with your culture is up to them and their belief system comprehending your managerial style, but it is first up to you. 

It is more than explaining your mission and policy. It is how you talk to and treat not only your subordinates but your bosses and others within and without the company. You can repeat your intended culture or mission until your employees are blue in the face, but if they don’t see it integrated into your daily actions, they will perceive a much different view of your intentions. 

If you want your employees and new hires to buy why you do the things you do, they must first see it in action directly from you. 


Defining your culture begins with defining your “why” or your vision. 

The vision must clearly state the direction of an organization or group. It is your magnetic north. 

Cultivating the vision can only commence when the leader can clearly define it. 

Money, the lamest ‘why’.


According to the Harvard Business Review, a strong corporate culture is supported by social science as intuition. 

In layman’s terms, it is a perfect recipe; a combination of “why” (intuition) and “how” (social sciences). 

Here are a few tips to help cultivate your visionary, forward-thinking ideas into practical, everyday language that translates to the culture you want:


Keep this exercise for your records and revisit it with and without your team. Use it to your advantage to check in with your team’s performance and your own. It will assist and ensure you all live up to this vision every day. 

Then, then it’s time to explain this vision to a new hire. They will easily buy into your “why” because they can clearly see it displayed in your (and your teams) language, actions, energy, and charisma.

There is a cultural/media reaction going on to the concept of boss vs leader. You see a lot of memes and pithy quotes on the difference.

Some have this idea that leadership can be a process of entirely positive reinforcement, devoid of hard accountability, and that is sadly mistaken.

The point here is that leaders should lead from the front, whatever that means to them. There’s something about many of these memes which represent employees as victims of their managers which is horribly dystopian. That perspective won’t lend to many good work relationships.

Management is presented as top-down and heavy-handed while leadership is relational and inspirational. Often it is presented on LinkedIn simplisticly. Real management is extremely complicated because it is human to human and multifaceted uniquely to each person.

Here’s a more nuanced (and helpful) example:

But I digress, simplistic principals can be true too.

As in all stereotypes, there is some degree of truth to this dichotomy. Managers who don’t care about people are not great managers. Leaders who take all the credit are selfish and insecure. You can further simplify; morale failures do not make good leadership.

However, there is a variable to this people-relationship equation that doesn’t get so much attention. Too much of this leadership/management effectiveness conversation is narrowly placed on the leader as if leadership happens in a vacuum. It’s like evaluating fine Mont Blanc pens for writing on tissue paper. It’s never going to be good. The medium matters too. Those being led matter a great deal.

Some people won’t be inspired. Some people won’t be gently led. Some are stubborn, proud, and difficult. They may even be a high-performer in a certain aspect of their job but incorrigible elsewhere. What do you do then? How are you supposed to inspire those who can’t be bothered to take their career seriously? Point is, there are issues with some people that are more deeply fundamental than a boss can responsibly invest in. Each must decide where that line is for themselves.

This is where leadership or management, whatever you want to call it, turns more into a chess match than cooperation. The process of aligning them with the organization turns more into leveraging them into alignment. It’s painful work. Pounding square pegs in round holes often hurts the peg and the hand.

The easy and right answer is to let those people go. But what do you do in a market like this where finding replacements, much less someone with the right attitude, is particularly challenging. So you bear with them.

It’s important to recognize at this stage that they are keeping their job out of your lack of options, not their performance.

What’s the solution? Develop options for one. This is a great motivator behind investing in a robust network to hire from as a guard against being held hostage by underperforming employees.

Frankly, I see a lot of leaders being taken advantage of by employees who simply refuse to care about their work. That’s one of the great drivers behind the recruiting demand, find people who care. These leaders nobly blame themselves for the wrong problem though.

A failure to quickly hold underperformers accountable and firing those who resist will be forever taken advantage of. Work leadership just cannot solve some people’s fundamental issues that creep over to work from a personal perspective. I stress, sometimes it can, but often it cannot. Judge wisely.

When you find people who care, leading them with care is extraordinarily easy.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of compassionate leadership and condemn immoral management techniques, and I also propose we keep in mind that those being led have a big say in how things go too.

The main difference between the two is that leadership is about influencing people to follow, while management focuses on maintaining systems and processes.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

If you’re not proactively managing your online reputation, someone else is. In 2021, it is impossible to grow and succeed as a company with a bad online reputation. For those that aren’t actively online expressing their culture and values, the story gets told for you by unhappy employees and customers. Below is the full scoop on why online reputations are so important and how to maintain a positive one no matter what. 


Typically, before a potential employee even applies for a job, they will look online for job reviews. There are unfortunate statistics out there that can devastate company reputations. According to Social Media Today, 92% of consumers read online reviews to learn more about a company. also states that of all company reviews, 10% of employees will lie about the company in their Google, Facebook, or Glassdoor reviews. 

Thankfully, this is a small percentage of a company’s overall reviews, and most people don’t set out to directly hurt a brand or company they previously worked for. 

There are also ways the company can actively combat these types of reviews to maintain a positive and honest representation of themselves online. One avenue to take is to develop AI with a detailed human element to sweep for negativity and help create a more positive environment. 

Working with AI can be expensive and risky because the public can easily spot the difference between actual human reviews and bot reviews. 


There are many ways you can impact your online reputation without the use of AI. You have to be confident in your culture and values as a company. If you’re not, work on that first! 

Then, follow these steps to ensure you always receive truthful feedback that helps your company’s online reputation:

  1. Ask positive employees but never ask for positive feedback!

You want your reviews to be as organic as possible. If you ask your employees to leave positive feedback specifically, they will undoubtedly become suspicious and potentially resentful. 

Instead, be present on the floor. Get to know your employees as personally as possible. Those that love their job will stick out. Ask those employees to leave an honest review of their experience with the company but leave the choice up to them.

Those that aren’t happy with their job work on their happiness first and foremost. Get to the root of the problem. Show you care and want to make sure their experience with the company is a positive one. 

2. Strategically time when you ask for employee reviews.

Timing your reviews requests around optimistic company and employee milestones is paramount. Positivity is contagious. Use those positive moments to your advantage. 

Here are a few examples: 

Try not to go overboard with a flood of positive reviews all at once, though. Algorithms are inclined to flag positive feedback floods as suspicious. The most important thing is to monitor the ongoing changes in the company’s reputation and respond naturally. Stakeholders realize you are human, and sometimes reputations fluctuate. If yours is overly optimistic, this too can come back to bite you. 

3. Be sure to respond to negative reviews.

Entrepreneur states that when a stakeholder first hears about a brand or company, they almost always resort to Google for more information. Potential customers, employees, investors, and partners all do this. 

It’s common knowledge that you can’t always please everybody. Negative reviews aren’t necessarily life or death for a company, but how the company responds to those reviews can be. Potential stakeholders want to see how the company handles inevitable negativity. 

Communication is critical, especially in adverse situations. 

Your online reputation is the lifeblood of your company. Invest in it organically, and you’ll be pleased with the outcome. 

Sometimes we vent to one another and say frustrated things we would not say to the involved parties. We often write this off as “I wouldn’t say this to them, but…..” In a way this is quite understandable, not all of those emotions will benefit the conversation, particularly if the other party is defensive.

Let’s discuss how to leverage emotional clarity in problems to create stronger relationships.


Because it’s interesting to me. I’m a nerd, okay?! Relational dynamics are a fascinating, complex, endless source of benefit, puzzlement, and growth. Hopefully, you feel the same way.

Internal/external dialogue consistency applies to interviewing, peer-to-peer work relationships, superior/subordinate relationships, and more. If you are a fan of diverse inclusive environments you also know the healthy conflict that comes with them. Ideas must compete. HOW we compete and interact has a world of impact on how those relationships scale.

Often we see leaders with grand aspirations working very hard who fail to recognize sources of interpersonal friction, invisibly holding them back.


When you have a dichotomy between your filtered and unfiltered self you are living two different selves. Two different ways of thinking and communicating. One is more true than the other. The more you can align those, the better you can bring your full self to challenging conversations and speak your mind with collaborative gentleness. You can advocate for your perspective without vitriol but also not weakness. Beliefs have a way of controlling our behavior in ways we don’t perceive so if we have beliefs about people we work with that we don’t openly express, those beliefs subtly undermine those relationships. Limiting beliefs about people limit our ability to interact with them.

This is the theme reflected in the well-known quote “If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it.”

If you won’t say it to their face, why is that? Is it untrue? Is it unkind? Would it be unproductive? Can the complaint be framed with more compassion and optimism? Can I see this issue as an opportunity for growth in our relationships and be an ally instead of a critic?

So consider a goal of consistency between the stories you tell yourself and others about a conflict you are experiencing. You will find holding yourself accountable for being explicit and charitable will force a more disciplined and productive way to process conflict.

A healthy byproduct is you are less likely to slip into gossip and undermining others since the story you tell yourself, the other party and any affiliates is consistent and charitable. Consistent people are trustworthy.

To be clear, this is not about suppressing emotions. This is about understanding and leveraging them consistently with training so they can provide helpful cues earlier. Often you will get emotional signals before you recognize intellectual signals. This happens in interviewing all the time. The question is, what do you do with that signal?

And always be ready to tell yourself “I don’t know enough” instead of concocting a mental story about what the other side might be doing or be motivated by. Understand your own story and ask sincere questions to understand theirs. No assumptions.

Our busy economy blesses and curses us with zero unemployment for qualified candidates. Everyone (good) has more work than they know what to do with and the challenge of finding the right team members has become the new key to delivering great solutions, in any field.

How then should you recruit in this kind of market, differently than a recession market where candidates find you? More than ever your brand, process, and effort will define success in hiring the best people.

There are three different ways you can improve the quality of candidates you attract and hire.

  1. Improve company brand & reputation
  2. Implement interviewing discipline, precise analysis, and speed of hiring
  3. Volume


When the most talented people in your industry consider who they respect, do they think of you? Why or why not? Don’t let the “crowded market” excuse slip into your answer. As a leader you are responsible for elevating your firm above the competition.

There are a number of factors which influence the public reputation of a firm.

Your company’s brand will directly impact the quality of great candidates because they are discriminating. They care about working somewhere great. Rumor and reputation influences where people want to go. Therefore you must be mindful of how shortcuts can damage your ability to attract the best problem solvers.


In this overheated economy your process should be a competitive advantage. How do you create this?


There is no replacement for attracting and interviewing a larger number of candidates. While it may be impossible to create a large list of qualified and interested candidates, you must hold yourself accountable for doing the activities which advertise your opportunity to relevant candidates. Don’t expect them to come to you.

Unless someone is unethical there is not a proper situation where someone is surprised to be fired. Leading up to being fired the individual should be informed of their deficiencies, coached, and remedial goals set.

A good manager cares about the success of their people and if people are being surprise fired then that speaks to the leadership deficiencies in management.

Organizations who surprise fire people will suffer from morale and retention issues because employees do not feel two-way loyalty.

Performers the company wishes to retain will feel uneasy and always watching for secondary options should they encounter a firing ambush. It’s always better to leave on one’s own timing, than the timing of others.

Furthermore, companies who have a habit of suddenly terminating employees will experience whatever negative perceptions the employee may have percolating into the broader industry. Whether there is truth to a former employee’s complaints or not, it doesn’t matter. Guard your reputation by striving to part well with your fellow humans.


I write this sitting at Coeur d’Alene Coffee, a local cafe known for friendliness. They know everyone’s name and consequently people always smile when they enter and they have a loyal contingent. Employees need the same personalized attention to feel known, to feel cared for, understood, and to feel safe.

This is not tawdry advice. Consider every toxic environment you have seen; did people feel known, understood, cared for, and safe?

Employees leave managers who can’t make them feel understood. It doesn’t matter if the manager actually understands them, they likely do, but if the employee does not perceive to be understood, it doesn’t matter.


  1. Get to know the personal lives of your employees and demonstrate tangible care for their professional and personal well being.
  2. Ask for problems they see.
  3. Ask for their opinions and solutions to problems.
  4. Encourage their efforts at problem solving. Help them take responsibility for problems and build their confidence and courage by giving them autonomy to solve them, with supervision (help).
  5. Conduct 90 day reviews where you ask questions about their happiness with their job, advice for you, why they stay, and what they may want to change about their job.
  6. Curate their professional career for their benefit. Where do they want to go? Help them get there.
  7. As you expect them to sacrifice for the good of the business, expect yourself to sacrifice for the good of their family. Too many employers feel entitled to employee sacrifice without feeling a corresponding responsibility. Loyalty should begat loyalty.
  8. When correcting someone, help them correct (manage) themselves first by asking questions instead of jumping on them punitively. Self-managing people and teams are scalable, micromanaging is not.
  9. Show care for their professional performance by tracking key metrics and make those metrics available at any time to them so they can self-adjust to maintain performance.

Unequivocally the best companies are composed of the best teams which are managed by the best managers. It does NOT mean they have all the top performers. Teamwork is more important than individual contribution. Making employees feel understood is an excellent step towards building a culture of teamwork.