Michael Cioffi is a culture shaping professional with 20 years’ experience in learning and enablement; Michael believes maximize employee engagement and productivity is rooted in the presence and behaviours of an organization’s leadership team; and sustained through trust.

Organizational culture is best described as the essence of a company; an organizations “personality” is comprised of the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that make up the environment and inspire how employees interact with each other and with customers, clients, and other external stakeholders.

The culture within an organization is shaped by the company’s leadership team, values, and mission; this requires taking actionable steps above and beyond making claims on a corporate website, office communication board, a crafty email signature or social media posts. Leaders are tasked with inspiring organizational culture through their actions and employees should feel accountable to living them – always.

Here are a few ways Leaders can shape culture in their organizations to establish a healthy workplace:

1. Lead by example: Leaders should set the tone by demonstrating the desired culture in their own actions and interactions. When a leader demonstrates the culture they wish to see in the workplace by exhibiting the desired behaviors and values this inspires trust amongst teams and respect in the organization. Leaders that live up to the responsibility of building trust among their teams and inspiring growth result in better results.

2. Communicate clear expectations: Leaders should communicate their expectations for the team's culture and behavior. Encouraging open and honest communication between employees is key to creating a positive work environment. Healthy, open and honest communication stimulates cooperation, drives culture and results; teams that talk – win.

“ Leaders are tasked with inspiring organizational culture through their actions and employees should feel accountable to living them – always 

3. Connect values to purpose: Leaders should model respect and connect the team's values to the team's purpose so that team members understand how their behavior contributes to the team's success. Employees should treat each other with respect and value differences among each other. When a project is in the planning phase, investing a few moments identifying why the project matters and correlating it to a value or mission could inspire different approaches, ideas and in turn results – When a team is working together towards a common goal, everyone achieves more.

4. Show appreciation: Leaders should show appreciation for team members who demonstrate the desired culture and behavior. This can be done in a variety of ways and most commonly through a rewards and recognition program; this does not always have to come in a form of monetary award - Recognizing great work, spotlighting employees and rewarding them with different projects or an occasional early Friday clock-out are just a few ways to say “I see you, I appreciate you and thank you!” – When’s the last time you sent a note to a team member or peer and said “thanks for being you and all that you do”? Imagine being on the receiving end of that note – Magic.

5. Set targets and milestones: For organizations to achieve results and strive to a goal it always helps when “keeping score”. Leaders that exemplify high cultures often experience lower attrition, higher engagement scores and more productive employees. Making these metrics a part of an incentive program and year-end reviews helps identify Leaders that are walking the talk, employees that live those values and those that need support. Does your organizational review process incorporate a measurement for living the corporate values? It should.