By Jo Hanlon,


In dealing with many SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises) on a day-to-day basis, I find common issues pop up, one of which is “So how do we get the (company) culture we want?”


This may help define some of the key factors that assist to create a company’s culture;

  1. Your company’s Communication style. It’s tone, look, feel, frequency and content; what is talked about, how often it’s discussed and how it’s talked about can provide some insight, but also what is NOT talked about.
  2. Your company culture will Underpin behaviour. How do your stakeholders treat you and each other, and how do they interact with your company or business? Stakeholders can include staff, customers and suppliers.
  3. Company culture creates and influences your Leading (future looking) goals and measures of success as much as it evolves from the Lagging (already past) measures of success. Your leading goals and strategies should identify what staff need to pay attention to in the future.
  4. Company culture will show the Truths about your own or the company’s values. It portrays the company’s picture of how it sees itself and what people can rely on it for.
  5. A great culture can be a Unique selling point for the company, making sure it stands out and appeals to both staff and customers. Is this a business I want to work for or deal with?
  6. Your culture is generally R It is hard to hide the real culture versus the desired culture for long if they are not aligned. This means it is important that the expectations people have are what they experience in reality. Congruence builds trust, and this is a key factor in growing, happy & healthy company.
  7. Lastly, you should aim to have a culture that is Engaging and E This helps keep staff interested in contributing genuine Effort and care whilst at work. They will be proud to say they belong to your company and that will attract talented staff to you as a prospective employer.


Therefore, Company culture is a matrix of feelings, thoughts, behaviours, traditions, experiences and messages that are both consciously and unconsciously projected. This influences how staff, customers and others interact with the business from day one and ideally, it is supported by your overall brand position and messaging, which are the public bits that stakeholders see first.

Decide what attributes you’d like your culture to have – Do you want to be innovative (Bankwest) or stick with the tried & true (ANZ). Do you want to be friendly and casual (Jetstar) or formal and more structured (Qantas)? Think about what is “normal and expected” for your industry and consider, do you want to fit or
break that mould? Jot down 12 or so key words that you’d like people to use when describing your company culture and set about its creation.

Good luck.

Jo Hanlon
HR Coach/GNS HR Manager