Business Transformation


Culture can be such a difficult concept to define. It relates to people, purpose, and the organisation itself, and how they are all intertwined. However, I think one of the most useful ways to describe culture is this: it is what people do when no-one is watching!

When I talk about culture, I am referring to a ‘way of being’. It encompasses beliefs, values, practices, attitudes, and behaviours that people share – not only in the workplace, but in many areas of our lives, including family life, community, hobbies and even sporting clubs.

From an organisational perspective, culture is the environment that we create for our people. It plays a powerful role in their work satisfaction, retention, relationships, performance, and progression.

Workplace culture impacts everything from performance to how an organisation is perceived, both internally and externally. Building a great culture in your organisation will help you entice, and retain top talent and improve levels of employee engagement, productivity and performance.

In my experience, creating a positive culture makes for happier people who are more committed, have greater job satisfaction, perform better and are more likely to stay and grow with the organisation.

Positive culture is something so simple that we all recognise as important, yet it’s difficult for many organisations and leaders to implement.

We have all heard senior leaders talk about their competitive advantage as being their strategy, their product, their processes, or even their HR policies. While this might be true to some extent, I believe an organisation’s biggest competitive advantage is its people and the culture and environment they work in.

More and more senior-level executives are starting to see the immense value and benefit of cultivating a strong culture. According to a study by BW Businessworld, 92 per cent of leaders from successful companies believe that workplace culture has a high impact on a company’s financial performance and is critical to reaching financial goals.

Creating a culture of openness, empowerment, collaboration, trust and cooperation I believe is the foundation of a thriving organisations of the future.

Creating a great culture is not easy – but it is worth it.
Whether you’re a CEO, entrepreneur, senior executive, board member or head of buying, a great culture starts with you. If you are responsible for people, you are also responsible for culture.

I was once asked by a leader from another organisation, ‘Col, when you have half an hour, I would love to pick your brain on how to create a great culture.

I was happy to sit down and have a chat, but obviously, creating a strong and supportive culture isn’t something you can solve in a 30-minute conversation. There is no magic pill for a great culture, and I certainly can’t give you the perfect recipe in half an hour. Culture is not something you can buy off the shelf, nor will a few affirmations or posters around the office do the trick.

Creating a great culture is not about free lunches, free parking or a free pass to the gym, although all of these things are nice to have. These are more like perks – whereas creating a strong culture is something you must work at every single day.

A great culture is where people take care of each other and a place where people are proud to show up to each day.

Culture must be taught and learned. The kind of culture leaders create in an organisation will determine how employees describe where they work, how connected they feel and how they see themselves as part of the organisation and its future.

All of this might make it sound like culture is a lot of work – and I’m going to be honest, it is. But it’s also a very worthwhile investment because the dividends and pay-off of a positive, productive and empowering workplace culture are immeasurable.


As I mentioned…..There is no easy road to creating a great culture. Each culture is unique to an organisation, just like each of us are unique as individuals. It takes commitment, and consistency, but with the right strategies in place you can encourage a more productive and positive culture to flourish within your workplace.

Here are my 10 tips for creating a great culture.

  1. Give everyone a voice and welcome new thinking
  2. Inspire and empower those around you
  3. Encourage relationship-building and healthy competition
  4. Create an environment that allows people to feel part of something bigger than themselves.
  5. Cultivate open, honest communication
  6. Live and breathe your core values
  7. Promote positivity and collaboration
  8. Reward effort, results, and teamwork
  9. Treat people equally and celebrate diversity
  10. Share a clear vision and purpose

Culture starts with you!

Written by Colleen Callander.

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Colleen Callander
Colleen Callander, author of Leader By Design (Major Street Publishing $29.95) and former CEO, is a renowned business and leadership coach, keynote speaker, board member and ambassador. She is also the founder of Mentor Me, a platform through which Colleen mentors women from all different walks of life.

Colleen Callander is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or connect with Colleen here.