My guess is:
1. Make sure everyone in the company knows how their contribution affects company performance (and perhaps mood).
2. Make sure the business has a plan, purpose, direction, plenty of goals.
3. Make sure your business model is in line with your customer's needs. This is so important for staff honesty and integrity.
4. Make sure staff know why your company is so special and wonderful, they should be skipping on their way to work.
5. Make it clear to staff and customers, what your company values are.
Culture spreads downwards through a company from the very top. It's all your boss's fault if your company culture sucks, so she/he's the first person that must change.
I'm sure there are other things too, but after all this is only free advice. :o)
Hope this helps.
Start with your 3-4 core values, develop a Mission Statement (your purpose) and a Vision Statement (your destination). With these you have the basis for your company culture.
Roger hit the nail on the head- defining your mission and vision statements will give you a basis for how you want the company to be shaped and perceived. Other components of culture include the language used in marketing, the words used to describe products and services, as well as unique words that can be trademarked and become intellectual property for the company. Words play a huge role as they shape perception of the brand.
As I consider the question, I would start with what is the Culture you have already (or what do you want if a start-up). There are several tools and frameworks that can help, the one I use is The Leadership Circle (R) Cultural Survey. You get to explore what you have and what you want. They may differ! Then go about aligning the organisation. Notwithstanding the Purpose and Leadership that all need to align. So, I use the Leadership Circule and this Grow Through Change framework http://assentire.net/coaching/ to help with the implementation side of this.
So Where are you, Where do you want to go to, How are you going to get their.
It starts with the founders.
Have a clear vision and purpose that your team can rally around.
Define your values and what you stand for, ideally in conjunction with your team (if you haven't defined them already). Be brave, be bold. Get everyone to really believe in why you exist, what you're doing and where you're going.
Actually live your values and purpose, don't just leave them in a drawer somewhere.
Lead from the heart.
Treat your people like adult, trust them.
Give them responsibility to make decisions.
Let people be themselves at work (not a fake version of themselves).
Soften the boundaries between work and family life, creating stronger ties.
Encourage people to learn new skills and collaborate across teams, preventing silos.
Ping pong and fresh fruit is great 'n all but it's not a one-way ticket to a great culture.
Start with people and purpose.
A great culture is all about 'shared knowledge, shared goals and mutual respect'.
I believe it starts with defining one in the first place. Your organizational goals should define this 'culture' clearly. This can be translated onto your mission and vision statements. Set the tone by having this captured in your HR policies & Employee Handbooks, corporate booklets etc. Also, images/ quotes related to the required context can be put across the office to imbibe this concept. Ensure to share this with all the new employees to the firm. Get them to understand and believe on the importance of your corporate culture. Then, it is imperative to keep reinforcing the value of this 'culture' by the Top Management to ALL the employees during meetings, presentations, team building etc. There can be a good reward management system by recognizing those who bring in value in line with the defined culture. For eg. a company like 3M is built on the culture of 'innovation'.
The culture begins and ends with the founders. Period. What is the culture you want to create? You need to be very clear about your vision for culture and how you plan to achieve it...then, you hire people who are a fit with your team, culture, vision.
The development and implementation takes time. It starts with letting all employees know what we want the culture to be outlined in company mission statement, strategic plans, human resource policies, etc. However, just saying it does not mean it is going to happen. Train/educate Management in what we want the culture to be and how to implement and sustain the culture. Get periodic feedback from employees as to how they describe the culture and ask what recommendations they have as to how to improve. Companies are known for particular cultures over a period of years.
Most companies already have a "culture," whether they know it or not. The challenge is, then, to determine what you want your company culture to be, and then to take steps to create and grow it. It does start with the company leadership, including the founder of the company, if he or she is involved. Then you must look at the brand identity and how you want your company to appear to the outside world. Are you an entrepreneurial company full of young, out-of-the-box thinkers, like Google? Are you a company filled with smart-thinking professionals who take their work and their clients seriously, and are willing to work really hard to make your clients a success - like KPMG? I believe if you determine what your culture needs to be - both for your employees and for the outside world to believe- then you can start building a communications program and activities to support that culture and nourish it. Top leadership must believe in and endorse the "culture," and everyone from the top down needs to live it if it is to be believable.
In any organisation a culture will already exist. This culture will influence behaviours (and be in part be influence by behaviours) and therefore the results that can be achieved by the organisation.
If you want different results you need to adjust the values and beliefs of the individuals that comprise the stakeholders in that organisation. this is a broad group encompassing employees, directors, shareholders, clients and suppliers and often the community in which the organisation operates.
To impact on this group your communications have to align meaningfully with the strategy and vision, they need to be reflected in the way people are managed, treated and respected, in the way people are rewarded both materially and in none monetary recognition.
Leaders must role model desired behaviours and manage behaviours that deviate from acceptable norms ruthlessly espescially those that are at variance with espoused values.
All in all this is a complex multi-dimesional matrix change programme - and we wonder why so few companies get it right.
You build a behavioural frame work , get everyone involved in building it and then hire performance manage and reward against it,
The answer has been given, it starts with the founders. But it is the behaviours of the founders based on their values that define the culture. That culture survives the founders leaving and if anything only evolves over time. The culture is simply the norms of behaviour that are supported and reenforced by people's response to them. How do you create it? Paying attention to how you are behaving, being aware, what you do is what you mean. It doesn't matter what you say. If what you say is different than what you do the environment will be toxic. And that will be the culture.
Cultures just happen. Creating an Intentional Culture is key. Ann Rhoades wrote a great book called Built On Values. It's a field guide to doing just that. I am a firm believer that you need to have buy in from employees and would encourage a bottom up approach to the process instead of just dictating from the top down what the values and the culture should be. Basically, here are the steps I've used in the past.
1. Talk with employees about what they think the current culture is and what they value.
2. Pull a cross functional group together to take that information and define the core values of the company.
3. Create a values team to roll out these values to the organization and create programs that will help the company ingrain these values into the organization. The values should be part of everything you do in the company.
4. Make sure that the leaders exemplify the values and the culture. You'll lose credibility if they don't.
5. Continually asking for feedback--are we living according to the values?
6. Hold others accountable for the culture.
It takes a long time to change a culture.
1. Why not start it with a bold speech? Make sure you know what kind of culture you want to create within the workplace and make sure that it is well absorbed by everyone else.
2. Reinforcement: Now, after making the initial step, of course the reinforcement and follow up stages will follow. Come up with a lot of different things from activities to totally overhauling the office design and feel.
3. Make sure everyone is on the same page or if some are not up for it, make sure you find common ground.
4. Turn practice into habit: Eventually keeping to this practice will automatically turn it into a habit that everyone will just it subconsciously.
5. Orienting new hires: If someone is newly hired, make sure he was screened properly so that if he has a different view on things, it will be made clear that this place works like how it does.
Creating a culture takes time and is difficult. Start it by embodying the culture you want your organization to be like. Talk to your employees, help them cope. Sometimes, all it takes for everything to be in motion is one simple hello.
Hope this helps.