Talking Point: The Disney Institute Blog

Intentional Design: Four Elements of Great Company Culture

September 18, 2014 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute

Imagine if all of your organization’s employees could grade your current workplace culture. What grade would they give it? Would it be an “A” for achievement; a “C” for inconsistency or an “F” for (lack of) follow through? What word, or words, would they use to describe it?

Recently, Glassdoor.com announced its list of the Top 25 Companies for Culture & Values, as ranked by the people who know their companies best — the employees. Among these 25 companies, including The Walt Disney Company, employees most often cited “a supportive, team-oriented atmosphere, a family-like environment and genuinely standing behind company values” as the primary reasons they liked the company culture and working conditions.

In reality, all organizations have a company culture – whether good or bad, which directly impacts employee engagement. But, the key question is this: Is it a culture by default, or by design? Almost certainly, the 25 companies on the Glassdoor list have been very intentional about creating, managing and sustaining their employee culture. And, they likely have all discovered that a great culture just doesn’t happen over night. It begins by building a solid foundation and nurturing it over time.

In our Disney’s Approach to Employee Engagement course, we teach business professionals our time-tested strategies and management practices for building and sustaining a healthy workplace culture. Specifically, we start by examining these Four Elements of Culture:

  • Heritage and traditionsWhat are your organization’s unique history and stories that helped shaped how it came to be? These stories build a sense of pride and create a bridge, or a “connection,” that spans from the past to the present, and into the future.
  • Shared valuesWhat is most important to your organization? These lasting beliefs and ideals form the framework your organization will use to make decisions and help shape desired behavior.
  • Language and symbolsWhat unique symbols and specific language will employees recognize to clearly understand who you are? When developed intentionally, these words and images will paint a distinctive and memorable picture in the minds of your employees.  
  • Traits and behaviorsWhat specific behaviors exemplify the traits that you want your employees to bring to life? When well defined and communicated to all, these will help provide clarity and consistency to the statement we all have heard, “here’s how we do things around here.”

These Four Elements of Culture have helped Disney shape and define our company culture, and they represent fundamental building blocks that any organization can use to begin the process of creating a culture by design.

If your organization does not have the culture you want, then you must create it yourself, and the key to creating a workplace culture that wins praise from your employees (and maybe even a few awards!) will be the one that is intentionally created and sustained.

How can your organization be more intentional with building and sustaining a great workplace culture?

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For nearly three decades, Disney Institute has provided engaging and insightful learning opportunities for business professionals and organizations, teaching them the Disney approach to business….focusing on Service, Leadership, Culture, Brand Loyalty, Creativity and Innovation. To learn more about how you can attend an upcoming course, see our full Course Calendar. Not sure which course is best for you? Try our Course Recommender

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Posted in Employee Engagement | Tagged Culture, Company Culture, Employee Culture, Workplace Culture, Organizational Culture, Culture Training, Employee Engagement, Engagement, Values, Bruce Jones

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