Create an Uncompromising Work Culture by Ensuring Good Comes First

Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of the Purposeful Culture Group, which he launched after a 15-year career leading and managing teams.

As businesses and offices reopen, leaders find themselves asking a vital question:

“Do we just plug people into our old culture… our ‘old normal’?”

Even though your organization may have excelled in many other areas, chances are your work culture was not—so is not now—always one that made people feel valued or respected. Chances are that your work environment was not inspiring, driven by purpose, or compassionate or fun, or consistently productive. Ultimately, your culture may not have been as competitive as you would like; you might have struggled in areas critical to success like innovation, growth, and customer and employee retention.

So why would you want to go back to that version of normal? More importantly, why would your employees?

You know this isn’t the best way forward. You’ve seen these cultural shortcomings firsthand—and you know your organization can do, and be, better. You want your new culture to be a more inspiring, fulfilling place to work and one that produces better results. But you do not know where to start. Without tearing apart existing operations, you do not know how to change your work culture.

You’re not alone. And not knowing how is okay—for now.

The fact is that no one has ever taught us leaders how to proactively manage a work culture that values respect and results equally. We did not learn that vital soft skill in business school. Our bosses did not know how to do it, nor did our mentors or predecessors. Since Social Age thinking replaced Industrial Age “best” practices, however, how we think about company culture has changed significantly.

Because now, as we enter the post-pandemic future of work, culture refinement is often needed before our organization can regain momentum and realize its full potential. Now, before we start to see the business-focused results we expect—and perhaps already promised—nearly every leader must consider the need for culture change. In fact, as they construct their return-to-work plan amid labor shortages and people opting out of unfulfilling work, many leaders have already learned that culture change is required. Otherwise, attracting, retaining, and celebrating talented, engaged players—the top-tier players, including those of younger generations, necessary to help your team excel—becomes a monumental challenge.

But not if you have a proven plan that puts good—good for employees, customers, and all stakeholders—first.

women's leadership

The fact is that no one has ever taught us leaders how to proactively manage a work culture that values respect and results equally.


As my co-author, Mark S. Babbitt, and I describe in Good Comes First (available in September 2021 and ready for pre-order now), today’s leaders can build an uncompromising company culture that doesn’t suck by following these three steps:

Define | Define the culture by identifying the values and behaviors that will help create a working environment where the showing of respect (regardless of gender, race, background, orientation, etc.) is just as important as driving results. Be sure to include the best parts of both your pre-pandemic and pandemic working environments, including the remote work and flexible schedules employees have come to appreciate—and count on now.

Align | Next, deliberately work to close the gap between your current culture and your defined optimal culture. Specifically, refuse to tolerate the behaviors that cause unproductive, unsafe working conditions. Even your best performers (from a results perspective) must understand that an uncompromising company culture is built upon the values and behaviors rewarded—and is torn down by the toleration of behaviors others consider disrespectful and demeaning.

Refine | Constantly work to measure, coach, and monitor all employees for their desire and ability to demonstrate the values and behaviors of the new company culture. Celebrate those team members who go “all in” and deliver—and expect—respect. Mentor (and, in some cases, redirect) those who aren’t adapting well to the new culture and who do not consistently show respect to others—even if they are perceived to be high-performers.

Follow this process, and you’re sure to build and sustain a “good comes first”—purposeful, positive, and productive—work culture (and “next normal”) for every team leader and team member, in every interaction, every day.

Sounds easy, right? We know it isn’t. In fact, as a leader, you know most change efforts initiated before the pandemic stalled or failed. So you are aware that culture change is not easy.

But by applying the actionable inspiration outlined in Good Comes First, you will see that, done right, change is not just possible… change is practical, powerful, and well worth the effort. Just as important, you’ll learn that by serving as Chief Role Model throughout your change initiative, you are the right person, at the right time, to make real change happen in your team, department, or organization.

Learn more and register to receive the book’s full table of contents plus Venus Williams’ foreword.

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