How to mould culture in any workplace

By Jonathan Hunter, below, CEO, Eleco

According to recruitment firm Robert Walters, three out of four individuals have parted ways with a job due to a mismatch in cultural fit. But it’s not just the employees who care. Having completed an acquisition this month which complements Eleco’s technical portfolio, I can attest that finding a good cultural fit is critical for commercial success.

Fostering a positive work culture can be a rewarding challenge for leadership to navigate, and there are five key areas that I believe must be addressed in order to improve company culture:

The first rule of fixing a toxic work culture – recognising that you have one

Acknowledging issues within an organisation’s culture is the crucial first step towards improvement. Leaders must openly assess their culture, identifying areas needing change. At Eleco, it was evident that addressing silos – especially in a company working across multiple regions – was necessary. As is so often the case, the challenge lies in implementation, however defining the values that were meaningful to both our customers and our staff made the implementation process more structured.

During implementation, we turned to behaviours that we expected to see more of and those behaviours that we wanted to see less of in the workplace. As collaboration is a key value for Eleco, I set out to promptly build bridges between employees from different departments and teams by addressing the entire company as one team. The Leadership Team were brought together by simply defining the purpose of the team: “Why do we need to meet?” galvanising the leaders and the organisation.

Be consistent with cultural messaging

Teaching our people to have a deep understanding of Eleco’s organisational values and culture is ongoing but is something that we included in the personal objectives of every colleague to encourage a sense of ownership of the values we share.

We bring our values into what we do daily rather than reserving them as something to be discussed at team-building events and that allows our employees to live and breathe the values of Eleco; they feel connected to a wider purpose, rather than seeing their role as ‘just a job’.

Culture drives strategy

Culture begins with leadership. The CEO is the driving force behind change, and key to this change is providing the environment for colleagues to grow as individuals and contribute to the growth of the business. Ensure everyone understands their contribution to the strategy, and equally be responsible for failure to deliver the strategy.  To compete and be successful, it takes the entire team to contribute consistently and much of this is achieved by setting the cultural framework.

View business as more than just a transaction

My Japanese heritage has greatly inspired me in business, and more specifically that business is about more than transactions; it’s about trust and mutual respect.

In Japanese culture, personal connections are highly valued. Taking the time to get to know someone at a personal level on initial meeting establishes a strong foundation of trust. Trust is a core value at Eleco and this human approach to business promotes a comfortable environment where employees are prepared to communicate openly, especially at times where opinions might not be shared.

Create a culture diagnostic to avoid miscommunication 

When assessing M&A opportunities, culture is a key consideration that impacts our view on valuation, due diligence areas and integration plans.  With culture being the route to success or failure with a business merger, what’s valid to remember is that it is easier to introduce a new culture through a merger than it is to change an existing one, and it is important that our integration team receives guidance on the level of collaboration required to bring new colleagues into the Eleco ways of working.

A well-defined and developed culture is infectious and will only strengthen over time.

Since becoming CEO at specialist built environment software group Eleco in 2020, Jonathan Hunter has encouraged a far greater focus on the company’s culture. Eleco has recently received Great Place to Work® accreditation for a second year