Corporate CPR Episode 67: How Culture Impacts the Health of Your Organization

February 22, 2023

On today’s show, we discuss how culture impacts the health of your organization and what you can do about it.

Sophie Theen, an award-winning people management expert and author of The Soul of Startups: The Untold Stories of How Founders Affect Culture (Wiley: August 2022), helps business leaders reimagine the role of talent management in the financial services industry. With a deep understanding of how founders can affect culture, Sophie has profiled both successful and unsuccessful founders to offer insight on how a company’s cultural paradigm shifts as it grows from a startup to a scale-up to an enterprise. She is a recognized mental health first aider and delivers engaging and insightful presentations on creating an immersive recruitment and onboarding experience, diversity and inclusion, and getting executive and investor buy-in for HR initiatives.

Key Takeaways:

Founders have an impact on shaping the culture of the company throughout the life of the company, but especially in the beginning stages. They should be intentional and ask themselves:

  • What is the company that I want to build?
  • What type of culture do I want – How do I want my people to look, feel, and emote within the business?

Then, every action a founder takes needs to help usher people toward that direction.

Founders lacking certain soft skills in areas they want to create are smart to hire people with those skills to help create the culture they desire.

Culture change management – To change a failing culture, identify:

  • What are the known behaviors?
  • What are the YES behaviors?
  • What change has impacted other people?
  • What new changes do we expect to see in the future?
  • How do we implement transition – through tools, changing the way we work, or collecting more feedback.

How do you approach change regarding behaviors in your culture?

  • What are the goals we are trying to achieve?
  • What are our limitations?
  • What are the behaviors hindering our progress?

What should a founder put in place as the company scales to keep the culture on the right track?

  • Start by having self-awareness and understanding your own weaknesses.
  • Make sure you have hired others that have the ability to be strong in those areas.
  • Empower others to help shape the culture as you desire.

Recommendations for HR people

  • Don’t try to tackle it all on your own.
  • Work together with the CEO and the founders.
  • Communicate to leaders to help them understand how a culture change will improve the company.
    • Fewer people problems to manage.
    • Ability to deliver better products to our customers.
    • A healthier working environment that is easier to scale.

3 Top Takeaways:

  • Culture continues to evolve. It doesn’t stop at any point in time.
  • It is a collaboration with every single person in the business. Everyone matters.
  • Leaders – don’t try to do it alone.

Connect with Sophie:


Book: The Soul of Startups

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