Building & Retaining a Company Culture

Have a group of new employees who have a lot of potential to make a difference in the company. For many of them, this is their first real job out of college. How do I get them off on the right foot, and make sure they’re adding to, not taking away from the culture and work ethic we’ve worked so hard to establish with the rest of our employees?

Thoughts of the Day: New employees need to learn about more than their job duties. Recent college grads bring their own set of challenges and opportunities. Building a culture is all about conveying to every employee what the company stands for – what does your company stand for, and how do you get that across? It’s best to start testing for fit in the recruiting process, and immediately carry through when onboarding new employees. Ensuring fit to culture can pay off in terms of work ethic, commitment, drive, and ability to manage pay scale through above average job satisfaction.

Think through the training program for new employees. Start with basic orientation issues such as work hours, layout of the different departments, information on where things are filed, overview of organization structure. Make time for new employees to tour each department so they can be more aware of how things fit together. Save people time by giving them information upfront on how things work throughout the company.

Follow up the overview with specifics about the department they’ll be working in, and the job duties for which they’ll be accountable. Have a way to assess skill level, followed by a specific plan for skill training to fill in any knowledge gaps. Make time for new employees to meet with peers and department heads, as they will be more likely in the future to approach people they know.

When hiring recent college grads, don’t assume that part time jobs and internships have turned them into savvy employees. Expect them to make beginner mistakes, as they learn to find their way in the workplace. For many entry level employees its like learning to balance on a tightrope between too much initiative and not enough, taking too many risks vs. too few.

Assign someone to oversee work until you know a new employee can properly perform tasks assigned. Instead of taking things for granted, make time to have employees play back an explanation of what they’ve been asked to do. Make sure to clarify timeframes, rather than leaving tasks open ended. Most new employees will appreciate the structure of having a next steps list to follow, having to check in periodically with a manager, and reporting regularly on progress.

While you’re address the basics of onboarding and training, make time to engage employees in discussions about what the company stands for. Keep in mind that every employee is an ambassador for the company. Make sure they are comfortable talking about the vision and mission of the company, in as few words as possible.

Show new employees that there is a common purpose to what everyone throughout the company is engaged in doing. Bring together people of different backgrounds, religions, personal expectations, etc. by pointing them towards a common set of goals. Give purpose to the work employees are doing by talking about how that fits into the company’s overall plans.

Start addressing fit to culture in the interview process. Talk with potential employees about where the company is going, the values that the company stands for, and how individual employees fit into that overall set of goals and purpose. Look for employees who are on a mission, looking to take a journey similar to the one that the company is embarked upon.

Keep in mind that it’s easy to hire employees. It is much more challenging to hold back and persist with recruiting in order to find the employee who is a “right fit” for the company. The latter strategy, recruiting for “right fit” is a group of individuals who are likely to bond together despite personal differences, work harder, persist through difficult situations, and put quality of work ahead of quantity of pay.

Looking for a good book? Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, by Geert Hofstede and Gert Jan Hofstede.

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Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc.,, a business-consulting firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurial firms grow. She can be reached by phone at (877) 238-3535. Do you have a question for Andi? Please send it to her, via email at or by mail to Andi Gray, Strategy Leaders Inc., 5 Crossways, Chappaqua, NY 10514. Visit for an entire library of her articles.