Culture Design

10 simple elements to shape culture

A brief overview of 10 elements which shape company culture

I’m often getting asked, what are concrete steps you can take to be more intentional in the way you work on culture. In this brief overview, I’m sharing 10 elements which can be seen as an inspiration. There are a probably a hundred more ways on what you can do. I’m sharing the 10 elements I used to work and have experience with.

1. Monday Preview

To kick off the week, have a meeting on Mondays for a quick check into the week. Hear very briefly what everybody plans to work on, what kind of events are happening and what kind of highlights are coming up or just asked everyone about the most fun moment on the weekend, etc. The idea is to start the week together and get an idea and sense of what’s going on.

2. Friday review

To close the week, have a longer and more in-depth meeting at the end of the week. Reflect and share activities and events that happened in the week, have a space for company-wide announcement or presentations and do a checkout e.g. with the I like, I wish, I wonder format or together.

3. One-on-One lunch

The bigger the team grows, the harder it gets to stay in touch and connection with your team members. 1on1 lunches give you the chance to connect and talk beyond work conversations. Make it a little raffle and match people together by chance, so you have a surprise lunch date every week.

4. Check-in talks

Plan check-in talks every 6-7 weeks or make it a weekly habit of blocking 30 min. For everyone in your time. The check-in talks are a time to reflect, give feedback but also talk about progress on learning and sharing next goals and ambitions for future development.

5. Onboarding

Make the onboarding of new people a fun experience. Instead of pouring a ton of new information in the minds and hearts of new people, create a little onboarding challenge where new people work themselves through and pull info rather than having them pushed in.

6. Team development sessions

Team development sessions are a time for the team coming together, and working on the “How do we work with each other?” Instead of waiting for this one big annual team retreat, make space for this question on a more regular basis. Give space for everyone to bond, connect and meet each other in a different rhythm and dynamic than the normal day-to-day work setting. This here is a great page from Hyper Island which gives you loads of different exercises and tools to work with and facilitate those team development sessions.

7. Feedback/Debriefs

Make time for a project debrief and individual feedback sessions. The more you get into the habit of debriefing with each other, the easier it gets. Sometimes spending an hour on debriefing a product launch or a particular project saves you a lot of hassle, time and conflicts in the next project. Giving feedback to each other but also on work or processes in a constructive, positive and solution-oriented way is always tricky and challenging. Giving and receiving feedback often feels more like walking over a minefield. You know you will step on some. Yet, you don’t know when and how. Yet, we only grow outside our comfort zone right.

8. Review lunch with new team members

After 4–6 weeks of joining, new team members share their first impressions, ask questions and have an extra space to onboard with the organization. In my role as Culture Lead, I used these lunches to get fresh feedback and new perspectives on how new team members perceive the work environment.

9 . Affair week

Every few weeks, everyone in the team gets matched “his/her affair” for a week. You’ll have lunch and a coffee date with your affair, spend a day working next to each other and engage in a fun team game at the end of the week, where one “couple” gets the chance to win. The affair week is a fun format to empower a dialogue across all departments and get a sneak peek into each other’s work.

10. Team events

Make it a habit to get out of the office together as a team. Explore a new sports activity, go to a museum, to a restaurant, go on a trip together. Go out partying and get to know the sides on each other which you don’t bring to the office. Never ever underestimate the incredible effects of partying and having fun together:)