6 ways to 'win' at company culture, from the top-ranked organizations

Mission statements shouldn't just be words on a website

The vast majority of organizations pride themselves on their "company culture"—a phrase you've surely seen in job descriptions and asked about in interviews.

But what does it really mean to have a strong culture at your organization?

Pairing up with CultureIQ, Entrepreneur compiled a list of the organizations with the best cultures. The CEOs of winning companies shared valuable tips for building an amazing organizational culture. Here are their six key suggestions:

1. Spell out your mission

Josh Reeves, CEO and co-founder of Gusto, says, "Having a mission isn't about writing some copy on your website. It's a set of values and principles that a company embodies in all aspects of how it does business."

Reeves also points out "being mission-driven is never a completed task." You should always be working to embody your mission. It's not a one-and-done deal.

2. Hire employees with culture in mind

When hiring employees, you should assess how well they fit with your organization's culture before you consider their skills and expertise.

"Even if you hire the most experienced, highly-skilled team member, if they're a culture killer, they'll be far more detrimental to your organization than they are helpful," says Mike Harris, president and COO at Uproad PR. "It takes your whole team to build a great culture, but only one or two people to destroy it."

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3. Set a stellar example

If you're communicating your mission and culture goals as a leader, but not actually living them, your employees aren't going to embody the words either.

"The only way it becomes your culture is constantly over communicating what you want to be and showcasing it in everything you do," says Kyle Taylor, founder of The Penny Hoarder

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4. Empower, empower, empower

"Organizations that empower workers are more likely to have engaged workers," Valerie Bolden-Barrett writes for HR Dive. A big part of this is delegating authority to workers and allowing them to have a say in how they go about certain tasks, she writes.

Some of the leaders recommend giving your employees a say in your organization's values. "Ask your team what drives them at your company, and what makes it a special place," suggests Scott Norton, the co-founder of Sir Kensignton's.

5. Acknowledge your vulnerabilities

No organization has an absolutely perfect culture—and recognizing this could actually improve your culture.

"If you set a tone that you are fallible and make mistakes people will follow your lead and speak up, whether they are right or wrong," says Max Yoger, CEO and co-founder of Lessonly. "Vulnerability and appreciation build a culture of candor."

6. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Company culture leaders emphasize that, particularly in the case where your employees' backgrounds differ from your own, you must treat them like what they are: a valuable part of your organization.

"If people think you are only pursuing your goals, then you can't build a culture that means anything," says Duane Hixon, co-founder and CEO of N2 Publishing (Boldon-Barrett, HR Dive, 2/22; Leadem, Entrepreneur, 2/21; Zipkin, Entrepreneur, accessed 2/23).

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