Are You Looking to Positively Change Your Culture?

February 15, 2018 | Ann Block

Ann Block; Vice President, Client Relations; Tero International

One of the most common questions I receive in my client relations role at Tero revolves around culture. “How can we change our culture to be more collaborative?” “How can we position team members to be more polished and professional in our work environment?” “How can we reduce our turnover and handle change more effectively?”

What contributes to an organization’s culture?

The way we interact with and respond to coworkers, prospects, clients and the community impacts the culture an organization works to establish. The culture is developed and formulated like a personality. It may include the company mission, vision, values and atmosphere. It may be reflected in the business logo, in the work a company does for the community and in the way people are taught to treat each other. It may be the pictures on the wall or the rug on the floor. All result in the unspoken but understood environment that sets the standards for the culture.

How do I set or change an organization’s culture?

The answer in how to set or change culture is not easy, and it is not straightforward. Changing and developing our organizational culture requires leaders to think strategically about what they want to accomplish. What kind of an environment and what skillsets from leaders/team members does the organization want in articulating and emulating the culture for someone walking through the front doors of their organization for the first time? Research shows it starts with strong leadership. This is where we start in working with organizations looking for our assistance in this area.    

What are the benefits of a positive culture?

While research shows 85 percent of our success comes from strong interpersonal skills, it is interesting to note the majority of our academic instruction relates to building technical knowledge. Where do we learn how to constructively handle conflict or learn to listen for understanding in achieving successful outcomes? These are key skills in an environment with a positive, inclusive culture. These are key skills in a successful marriage and family life as well.

The Department of Economics at the University of Warwick found happy workers are 12 percent more productive than the average worker. Unhappy workers were found to be 10 percent less productive. How much does it cost to employ unhappy employees? The answer is over $300 billion each year for American business. Unhappy employees lead to negative attitudes, low productivity and the business’ bottom line. It turns out learning how to engage employees is critical for leaders in organizations. It is equally important in learning how to engage partners and families in our personal lives as well.       

While interpersonal skill development to create the culture you strive for can be seen as an expense, it is clearly worth the time and the investment. Benefits can also mean reduced conflict and human resource legal actions, high customer service satisfaction, better internal survey results and company awards—potentially a “best place to work.”    

If you are looking to establish your organization as one that stands out from others in hiring and retaining top talent with earnings growth, it is possibly time to take a look at how you can change your culture.

Ann Block is vice president of client relations at Tero International. Email her at