Culture Guru Landon Snow Explains How to Build a Better Culture in Your Company
Baton Rouge-based consultant Landon Snow says some old-school business leaders resist the idea of working on their culture because they just aren’t inclined to prioritize this “soft skills”-centric topic over day-to-day business operations.
“My response is ‘It’s too late — you have a company culture,’ ” Snow says. “The challenge is how intentional do you want to be with your company culture?”
Snow is president of Snow Consulting, which grew out of his success at Brown Industries, an industrial services company that navigated sudden growth after landing a contract with a multinational corporation. He became vice president of culture in 2013, overseeing its rapid growth while maintaining a thriving culture.
“We realized that if we put people first, the company was more successful,” he says. “When we really did shift our lens from thinking about the end goal of profit to looking at investing in people, we noticed that momentum would start and the return was actually greater.”
Snow offered insights into why culture matters and some strategies for building better culture at a recent Tech Park Academy event at the Louisiana Technology Park. Here are some of his key points.
Embrace the Power of Culture
Snow says culture is much deeper than installing a pingpong table in the breakroom, buying better coffee or having birthday celebrations for your employees. Rather, culture is essentially the behavior of your company when you’re not there, he says. It’s also the personality of your company that describes the behavior of your organization and why you choose those behaviors.
Why does this matter? Snow says people, especially younger generations of workers, want to work for someone they like and they want to be a part of a bigger vision — and they’re much more likely to seek out a company that provides those things compared with members of previous generations.
Beyond attracting and retaining talent, a good culture facilitates trust and harmony, which in turn supports better efficiency within your organization, Snow says. “Culture doesn’t slow things down; it speeds things up,” he says.
“I believe that if you can create a thriving work environment where people have bought into your vision and want to work with you or around you, you can accomplish so much more.”
Create a Mission and Core Values
Snow suggests that business leaders take a long, hard look at their own actions. Your organization, he says, is a manifestation of your behavior and your philosophy.
“You cannot delegate culture. You cannot fake culture,” he says. “Blame is a missed opportunity to grow.”
Snow says the first step to creating a better culture in your company is to have a mission and core values. A clearly defined set of core values that explains why you do what you do allows your people to buy into something and serves as bumpers that will keep you in line as your company progresses.
Let Those Core Values Be Your Guide
Once you’ve established your core values, the next step is to hire and fire based on those fundamental tenets.
That means finding a qualified person that will be able to embody and execute your vision, mission and core values, Snow says. Training and experience can be cultivated, but a person who doesn’t fit your mission, vision and values will only get worse over time, he says.
If you make an exception because someone is good at their trade but toxic to your company environment, you will break your culture, he says. “That person cannot stay,” Snow says.
Practice Regular Maintenance
If your organization invests in culture, Snow says, it will eventually reach a tipping point at which the culture serves as a magnet for talent. But regular attention and care are needed to maintain that culture, particularly as you take on new talent.
Snow says organizations must be intentional with their onboarding processes, using them as tools to acclimate new hires to the culture. A regular investment in training is also vital, he says.
Finally, regular feedback is essential to set up your team for success. Snow says he prefers regular feedback sessions throughout the year rather than constant feedback. “Don’t let people guess how they’re doing,” he says.