Creating a strong culture: Where to start

Why is it so important to create a strong workplace culture? Because a strong culture leads to better performance, higher retention and a more aligned organisation.

Ready to start building a strong culture? Here’s where to start.

To build a strong culture you need a short, sharp core purpose. A core purpose is the reason an organisation exists. It’s a brief statement that anyone can read and think, “Yep, got it. I know exactly what they’re up to”.

The fewer words, the better.

The power of a core purpose can be breathtaking. For example, the core purpose of Facebook is to ‘make the world more open and transparent’. Like it or not, with over one billion users sharing photos, videos, ideas and updates, every day the world is more open and transparent thanks to Facebook.

At The Physio Co, we too have a simple core purpose. Our core purpose is ‘to help oldies stay mobile, safe and happy’. Those eight words have been amazingly powerful in aligning our team and growing our culture. Potential team members immediately know that physio for aged care residents is our thing. Just as importantly, our clients love that we are completely focused on oldies, we’re not trying to be everything to everyone.

Now, just because a core purpose is short doesn’t make it easy to define! It took close to a year to draft, re-draft, ask for feedback, think some more, start again, get more feedback and finally cut our core purpose down from about 15 words. In my experience, a core purpose is more succinct and powerful than either a vision or mission statement (because a lot of mission/vision statements are kinda crap!). Creating our core purpose is one of the most worthwhile things we’ve done to grow The Physio Co’s family culture.

So, once you’ve defined your short, sharp core purpose and communicated it to everyone, you’ll have the first of the building blocks needed to build a strong workplace culture. You’ll also have a tool to exponentially improve the alignment you have with your team. For example, if you have a difficult decision to make: refer to your core purpose. Need to make a hiring or firing decision? Refer to your core purpose. By continually referring to your core purpose you will automatically be taking the emotion out of many decisions.

A core purpose that clearly defines exactly why an organisation exists is a powerful legacy a leader can create. It sets the path for others to follow. To build a strong workplace culture for your team, start by discovering your own core purpose and then refer to it every day. And, of course, have some fun with it!

Tristan White is a husband to Kimberley and a dad to little Alexandra. He’s a qualified physiotherapist, ironman triathlete, blogger and CEO of The Physio Co – Australia’s eighth Best Place to Work. His passion is to build a strong family and workplace culture and share what he learns with the world. Tristan’s Culture is Everything blog was ranked by SmartCompany as one of Australia’s 25 Best Business Blogs in 2011.



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