Meghann Isgan, director of team success at Readers.com, concurs culture starts at the top. If leaders don’t actively participate to foster the kind of culture they want or expect, she says, “no amount of free snacks and ping-pong tables will create a great environment.”
Leaders should get out of their offices, build personal relationships with team members who aren’t direct reports, and paint a picture of inclusion and encouragement. Even though most people know on a gut level that free snacks and table games aren’t solely responsible for building a solid culture, the stereotype continues.
“The trust that is exemplified in a company with a great culture is built on a foundation of open and regular communication,” agrees West. “That comes from management setting clear expectations and letting the team have input on standards and goals. It comes from regular team reviews that are about having a conversation that helps the team member and company grow, rather than being a formality and checking a box. It comes from leaders who think before they speak and have calm, measured, positive responses to challenges and obstacles.”