I’ve worked at a grand total of four companies throughout my career and this question made me think about the best (and the worst) parts in each. I feel lucky to have had a diverse, interesting, and challenging journey, but the one factor that stands out above all else for me is trust. The Great Place to Work Institute has identified trust as the main driver that makes a company a great place to work, and I have to say that’s true for me. I have to trust and believe in the company I work for and they have to trust and believe in me.

So if this is my idea of a great culture, what’s yours? What do you need to thrive? The authors of HBR article, What it Means to Work Here, talk about how important it is to create ‘signature experiences’ that tell the right story about your company. After all, we often hear that stories form the basis of any culture! But it’s true, is it not?

So how do we allow these stories to flow out and be told? How do we create opportunities to share what it’s like to work at ‘ABC’ organisation so others feel part of something bigger than themselves? And how do we do this in a way that is purposeful and meaningful at an individual, manager, team, department, and organisational level?

At O.C. Tanner, we use the power of a symbol to help organisations tell that story or signature experience. Symbols are powerful when they stand for something big you’ve accomplished together. They reinforce your culture and your brand. Our logos epitomize who we are as organisations and we align ourselves to them with a sense of pride and belonging.

In our organisation, we create beautiful symbolic awards and keepsakes that are tangible reminders of milestones, special occasions, and significant events—for both the company and the employee. Then these unique symbolic awards are combined with our Yearbook—a powerful way for leaders, coworkers, friends, and family to honour each career stage—allowing companies to celebrate their employees from day one through retirement. All while incorporating messages of what the company stands for and what it means to work there! Powerful stuff, eh?

But the icing on the cake is in the delivery—in the presentation. It’s in the sincerity with which that recognition moment is created and shared. It’s with the people who are sharing stories and the colleagues who are listening and wondering, ‘what are they going to say about me?’. It’s in the look of pride on a teammate’s face when they are genuinely happy for the person being celebrated. And it’s in the middle of that recognition moment when you feel on top of the world and say to yourself, “I love this company, I love my team, and this is where I belong.”

That’s what makes a great culture (original blog can be found here)

PS I experienced exactly what I talk about in this blog yesterday at a manager conference. It was the most emotional, moving and perfect way to celebrate someone who had been with this company for 25 years! Appreciation changes everything and moves people in a way that other things can’t 🙂

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