10 Company Culture Experts You Should Pay Attention To
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This Week: Top 10 Company Culture Experts
Company culture matters. It can not only lead to better financial performance, but also attract the right kind of talent, improve engagement levels, and lower turnover rates.
Company culture would be a magic bullet, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s so darn tricky to pin down. Cultivating the right company culture – not to mention identifying what, exactly, that means for your business – can be terribly difficult. That’s why we wanted to take this opportunity to shine a spotlight on 10 thought leaders who know a heck of a lot about this subject. If you read up on what these folks have to say, you’ll soon find that the business of culture isn’t as painful as you may have thought it was.
1. Walt Rakowich
Where you can read him: Walt’s Blog
Why you should read him: Rakowich is all about transparency. He believe that transparency builds trust between employees and company leaders, and that trust leads to better communication, increased productivity, and the attainment of important company goals.
Rakowich is also walking proof that culture can play a decisive role in business success. When he took over as CEO of Prologis in 2008, the company’s stock had dropped by 96 percent, from $70 per share to $2 per share. Under his leadership – which included a culture change focused on increased transparency, Prologis pulled off a stunning turnaround.
2. Stephen Covey
Where you can read him: In one of his many books
Why you should read him: Covey is best known as the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you don’t know much about him besides this fact, you may not even realize that he also wrote extensively about company culture – or that his most famous book can itself be a useful guide in your quest for a great company culture.
“[The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People] is a must-read for anybody trying to craft a strong culture in their small medium or large business,” says GreenPal CEO Bryan Clayton. “The book talks about creating successful paradigms among yourself and your team members, creating win-win situations and accomplishing synergy. When a team has strong cultural synergy, 1+1 = 3, 5, or even 1000.”
Sadly, Covey passed away in 2012, but his contributions to the business world will never – and should never – be forgotten.
3. Gregg Parise
Where you can read him: Parise’s insights have appeared all over the Web. Honestly, your best bet is to Google “Gregg Parise company culture” – and then spend the next few hours reading all the search results.
Why you should read him: When you need company culture advice, who better to turn to than the CEO of a company that landed on Entrepreneur’s list of the best company cultures in 2015? Parise’s company, Events.com, scored such an honor because Parise is all about putting people first.
“I aim to build and foster not only a hard-working business environment, but also a culture where each individual feels acknowledged and necessary,” Parise said after the company received the award. There’s a lot that employers can learn from this people-first approach to culture. We suggest you go ahead and start that Google search now.
4. Tony Hsieh
Where you can read him: Hsieh’s is another name you might want to consider Googling, or you can start with his book, Delivering Happiness.
Why you should read him: Chances are you already know all about the radical approach that Hsieh takes to culture at his company, Zappos. From offering people money to quit to instituting holacracy, in which there are no traditional workplace hierarchies. If you’re not familiar with Hsieh – or if you’ve only heard about Zappos’s unique culture in passing – then you really should take some time to do a deeper dive into the man’s ideas. Hsieh’s vision won’t work for everyone – I know I certainly wouldn’t be a good fit at a company like Zappos – but it will at least teach you to approach company culture in brand new ways.
Photo courtesy of Delivering Happiness Book
5. Chuck Blakeman
Where you can read him: ChuckBlakeman.com
Why you should read him: According to Blakeman, we now live in a brand new age of work: the “Participation Age.” This age will require us to create companies that “invite the whole person to work.”
A speaker and bestselling author, Blakeman outlines his ideas further in his latest book, Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea. There, he advocates for a company culture in which people are stakeholders, not employees. This, he argues, creates ownership at every level. That’s a powerful motivator that not only makes people feel more fulfilled, but also drives improved business outcomes.
6. Delta Emerson
Where you can read her: Emerson’s another name you’ll want to Google, as she tends to do more interviews than blogging. Still, you can check out a couple of her posts on LinkedIn.
Why you should read her: As the president of global shared services at Ryan, Emerson played an instrumental role in the creation and implementation of “myRyan,” a totally flexible, results-only work environment that allows employees to work wherever and whenever they want – provided, of course, that they’re getting their work done successfully.
Ryan Chairman and CEO Brint Ryan was hesitant about Emerson’s plan, but he couldn’t be happier with the results: “Here’s the takeaway, and I want to share the most important thing that I’ve learned in this process, and that is, when you treat your people like they are your best clients, you win. When you let them drive, you win,” he said in a brief from the Great Place to Work Institute.
7. Thomas E. Boyce
Where you can read him: You can find a lot of great resources from Boyce at the Center for Behavioral Safety.
Why you should read him: Boyce is “the only applied psychologist, formally trained professional musician and recording artist, author, keynote speaker, university professor, and Fortune 100 Business Consultant in the world.” So, yeah, he’s got the qualifications.
But even more importantly, Boyce deals with company culture in often overlooked segments of the work world. While the rest of us are talking about how to keep Silicon Valley software engineers happy, Boyce is helping people in high-risk professions stay safe and free from injury through cultural transformation.
And you thought company culture was just about foosball tables.
8. S. Chris Edmonds
Where you can read him: The Purposeful Culture Group
Why you should read him: As the CEO of Purposeful Culture Group, Edmonds works hard to create inspiring workplaces that lead to better results for a business’s bottom line. In Edmonds’ eyes, the secret to a great company culture is values alignment. When the values of the leadership team and the values of the employees are in sync, wonderful things happen.
If you’re in need of a comprehensive guide to company culture, you may want to start with Edmonds’ book, The Culture Engine, which former Walmart.com CEO Joel Anderson has called “a detailed road map to help any leader deliver an inspiring culture that generates lasting organizational success.”
9. Cara Silletto
Where you can read her: Crescendo Strategies
Why you should read her: One of the biggest challenges employers face today is uniting their multigenerational workforces. The boomers, Gen. X-ers, and millennials have a lot in common – but they also have a few differences that make catering to every group at the same time more than a little difficult.
Silletto is exactly the expert you want to turn to when you’re trying to build a culture that bridges the gaps between the disparate generations.
“Employees and candidates have the upper hand now, so culture is everything! Building a strong culture where people want to work is the key to employee retention,” Silletto says. “Cultural components such as management effectiveness and corporate communication greatly impact both recruitment and retention efforts.”
If you’re in need of a culture that meets the needs of all your workers, then Silletto has your back.
10. Katie Burke
Where you can read her: Burke has published articles far and wide, but many of them are available on her LinkedIn page.
Why you should read her: Burke is vice president of culture and experience at HubSpot, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t think she’s doing a bang up job. In a LinkedIn endorsement, HubSpot Vice President of of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson says “Somewhere around 2014, I stopped being able to count the number of people at HubSpot who can credit Katie Burke for advancing their career. In a company of over a thousand, you can’t go anywhere without seeing her influence.”
Even better, Burke has shared her secrets for culture success all around the Internet. You, too, can follow in her footsteps and create the kind of culture that leaves employees engaged, fulfilled, and thrilled to work for you. Just take Burke’s advice.