To understand work culture, one must understand culture first. Culture alone is defined as the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors shared by a collective people.

Culture is something that is created by those who are at the seeds of a group of people, an organization, and yes, a work place too.

Once culture is created, then it is picked up on from those who join in. It grows like a wild fire. When behavior is rewarded, the culture feels that. When people interact a certain way with each other, the culture picks up on that too. Do people open doors for one another? Do they say hi when they pass? Are they inclusive when leaving in small groups for a lunch breaks? Those who join adapt to the culture established before their arrival, and then they share it to the next group to come in and so on.

Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion.

Brian CheskyCo-Founder, CEO, Airbnb

We believe that it’s really important to come up with core values that you can commit to. And by commit, we mean that you’re willing to hire and fire based on them. If you’re willing to do that, then you’re well on your way to building a company culture that is in line with the brand you want to build

Tony HsiehCEO, Zappos

We have a culture where we are incredibly self critical, we don’t get comfortable with our success.

Mark ParkerCEO, Nike

Culture isn’t created by one person alone. It’s decided by the group as a whole. Yet for a successful work culture, those from the top of the company chain can steer the direction towards a positive way. It is then up to them to impose their expectations of values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors onto those who work with them. Ask yourself what these expectations are. Where do you want to see your organization going? What goals do you want to accomplish? How can you set the tone to get your organization where you want to go?

At the same time, a negative culture can be something an organization can get very easily stuck into. If you begin with a low expectation for organization, it will be much harder to change someone’s mind about leaving their papers all over the board room after every single meeting than it would be if that were what was a set rule from the very first conference. The same goes for things such as the way employees communicate with one another, their collaboration efforts, and their willingness to show kindness.

Work culture is the foundation of respect and productivity. The reality is, a negative work environment is distracting and caustic. Build communal values that your employees want to support together. You’re not just creating a place to work, you’re creating an every day experience. Creating an experience that people want to be invested in will produce the best work and bring in the best prospective employees. If you already have a negative culture at your office, although it’s difficult to change, it’s not impossible. The change will be worth it all around.

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