The culture handbook – a first step towards managing your company culture

Describing the culture of a company is challenging. Mostly because culture is felt more than told. You can be told a million things about the culture of a place, yet you will not grasp how it resonates with you until you interact with it. The emotions that come up when experiencing a culture validate the story you are told.

– As a new employee, do you feel seen, heard, challenged, included? Do you belong to this community? Does working together energize you or drain you?

– As a customer or partner, does this company meet your expectations? Do they listen to you? Do they care about your problems?

All of these questions arise naturally, even if they are not consciously formulated in your mind. The feeling you get will inform the answers.

When the story we are told doesn’t match the feeling we have when experiencing a culture, there’s a big sense of disappointment.

It happens to many of us. Changing jobs to a new company only to find out that the culture is so rigid and controlling that it becomes impossible for you to do your job. Becoming a client of a big brand only to find out that the customer service is more about bad attitude than actual service. Partnering with another company only to find out that you have major clashes between your value systems.

All of these examples (and many more) reinforce the fact that the story a company tells about their culture must be a truthful one. The story that connects the external perception of the brand with the internal beliefs and behaviors – meaning that what you see from the outside is what you get from the inside.

At Co-founders, we call it the culture handbook.

The culture handbook is like a story book that paints a vivid picture of the company. It creates that early feeling that gets validated when people start living and experiencing that culture in their day-to-day.

In a best-case scenario, the culture handbook nurtures the curiosity and interest to experience what it means to work in that company, to partner with them, or to become their client.

 

“I think it was a very important and nice way to introduce who we are, what our goals are and why we do things. It helped to feel belonging on this common journey and stand behind the words and the values we share.

One of our new employees also knew us from the past and he said that he could really feel this is who we are and could relate to the customer testimonials we collected. He also said it is rare to find this kind of spirit from companies and it was one of the reasons why he wanted to join.

Generally, we in marketing are very pleased with it. It helps us to keep the message alive in an inspiring way.”

– Samuli Saransalmi, Marketing Manager, LEDiL

 

The culture handbook comes in many shapes and forms. When we are tasked with co-creating one for our clients it is always a bespoke project. Because each culture is unique and so is each handbook. At the same time, our experience in branding and company culture development gives us the tools to carefully identify and understand why people care about a company and what motivates employees and customers alike.

Snapshots of how our client LEDiL introduces people to the company’s brand and culture

We help our clients formulate their authentic culture story and utilize the handbook as a strategic document when attracting talent and onboarding people, or when strengthening existing relationships with their employees, customers, and partners.

The culture handbook shouldn’t be yet another PDF, PPT, brochure or web page. It should outline the spirit of a workplace and a business as an engaging story, delivered in a creative way.

If you were to open your company culture handbook, what would you find inside? Let us help you discover.

 

The culture handbook enables you to:

  • Establish more concrete ways to manage culture by inviting employees to nurture your desired culture.
  • Document and concretize an otherwise abstract concept: make the implicit explicit, highlight aspiring behaviors and beliefs, visualize values in a memorable way.
  • Engage existing employees and strengthen their sense of belonging by involving them to contribute to the content of the handbook.
  • Improve your employer brand, attract more talent and give leaders a concrete tool to onboard new team members.
  • Support M&A culture integration.

 

Article image: Jason Goodman for Unsplash

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