Company culture is more important than ever. It sustains employee enthusiasm and keeps customers happy. It determines how employees treat their work and react to opportunities or challenges when the CEO isn't in the room. This makes it a "must-have" rather than a "nice-to-have."

But how many companies are intentional about cultivating culture management? I'm betting less than 50%. I talked with Josh Levine who for over 15 years has helped leaders build purpose-driven organizations through brand and culture management. He's the Co-Founder and President of CULTURE LABx, a non-profit community for professionals, designers, and founders passionate about cultivating company culture.
How important is culture management for organizations?

If a company is serious about staying competitive in the next decade, it's critical. Since the first factory was built, businesses have been chasing sustainable advantages like speed to market and product innovation. But, unlike those before it, culture benefits not just the company and customer, but the worker as well. If more managers and executives realized it's possible to measure and manage culture, their organization and their people would be in a better position to succeed.

How exactly does your organization, CULTURE LABx, help cultivate company culture?
We are a not-for-profit community for anyone interested in learning about building better cultures. We help professionals, designers, and founders cultivate company culture and host events in labs across the country. It is here where folks can learn from each other, experts, and share best practices. If a company is motivated to accelerate their pace of change, we have relationships with many agencies who can help. I happen to run one of those called Great Monday.
What's the relationship between brand and culture?
Typically professionals in these fields come from very different practices, but at the end of the day their job is the same: tell their organization's story so people can help you achieve your goal. The only difference are the people to whom they are speaking--brand faces outward toward the customer, culture points inward toward the employee.
What are three key culture management mistakes you see companies making?
First and second on my list is not defining your purpose and values. Many founders will say "Oh, I know what our purpose is" and then ramble for 5 minutes. If you (and your employees) can't tell me in 25 words or less, it doesn't count. The same goes for values. While you don't have to have them plastered on the wall, they need to be clearly stated. And don't give me a list of twelve. The absolute most I let my clients get away with is five.
The third mistake I see is failing to run recognition programs effectively. There are many ways to reward the kind of behaviors you want to encourage, but if you don't connect the behaviors back to values, you'll be driving blind. An incoherent spattering of topics will be reinforced with no pattern to speak of. Over time, people won't know what is expected of them and progress will stall.
What are some examples of brands rocking it with culture management?
Culture is easy to maintain when a company is small--the real bar is set for those that are doing it well at scale. Here in the Bay Area I'm liking what Airbnb and Lyft are doing in the culture management space. You can feel it in the warmth they cultivate in their employees and community. Two from outside the startup space are Nordstrom in the retail sector and USAA in banking. Both are hyper focused on the customer, and the culture reflects that philosophy.