How to Create a Corporate Culture

Be purposeful about making your farm a great place to work

You probably don't think a lot about this on your farm – but what's the culture there? If employees were comparing notes with employees from another farm – how would they describe it? Is it a family atmosphere where you know all of your employees and their families and most everything that's going on with them? Or are you more distant, only discussing business and only knowing your people by the work they do?

There are upsides and downsides to each kind of culture. It's an important element of the vision of your company (your farm) to be purposeful in creating a culture. Know what you want. Make that culture happen. Model it.

The components of a corporate culture include how you communicate, how everyone receives feedback, how performance is managed and how projects are completed. The culture includes the kind of meetings you hold, the company's rituals and the stories that are shared. 

What you do needs to match what you say. We use the do-to-say ratio often to describe how we set up and meet expectations for our clients, but the do-to-say ratio also works in a corporate culture to either build loyalty or tear it down. Let's say a company is saying that people are the most important asset. But in reality, employees see people not being treated with respect. Instead of training, mind-reading is expected. They see a highly impersonal attitude toward employees. Then you don't have a very high do-to-say ratio and your corporate culture isn't living up to your advertising. What follows next is poor employee morale and then mass exodus.

The leaders in your organization really need to buy into the culture that you want to create. They need to model it and they need to be the same person on the job and off. The communication needs to be in line with the culture.

Recognize that your people are constantly evaluating the culture, even if you aren't talking about it. They see it in who is hired, promoted and fired. That's really the teeth of a strong culture. They understand it in how fairly they are treated and in what behavior is allowed, tolerated, supported or frowned upon.

If the culture is strong and positive, your farm will become known as a better place to work. It'll become easier to hire, because employees will recommend people they know who are like them and fit the culture. If the culture is strong your employees will be engaged, vested in the success of your farm. And once your people are to that point, transition planning becomes easier as well. 

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