5 Building Blocks of Elite Company Culture

5 Building Blocks of Elite Company Culture

John Eades 29/05/2018 5

The data is in. Companies that have elite cultures outperform those who don't. Take Chick-fil-A for example. The company is on pace to become the nation's third-largest fast food restaurant by 2020. The company generates more revenue per restaurant than any other fast-food chain in the US, and it's only open six days a week.

Chick-fil-A's average sales per restaurant in 2016 were $4.4 million. Its fried-chicken competitor KFC sold $1.1 million per restaurant that year, according to a report from QSR magazine.

While there is a certainly a legitimate argument that Chick-fil-A has better chicken than KFC, it certainly isn't 4x better. So the natural question becomes, what's the difference, maker?

The difference comes down to an elite company culture driven by Chick-fil-A leaders and their team members. While there are many definitions of culture, the actual definition is "the shared beliefs and values that guide thinking and behaviors."

Through our work and research around measuring a company's culture, we have found there to be five key building blocks to measure.


1. Effective Leadership

The most critical element of employee engagement revolves around the relationship between boss and direct report. It's the linchpin of an engaged workforce. A study by the Herman Group showed 75 percent of people who voluntarily leave their job, do so because of their boss, not the company. If you have front-line managers that aren't effective at leading other people, it's hurting your company culture.

2. Deep Purpose

With the influx of millennials employees in the workforce and Generation Z right behind them, companies that are connected to the purpose of their work will continue to retain and attract the best talent. In order to do this, executive leadership teams must define their mission, vision, and values. Often times these things are defined but aren't lived out in actions and behaviors.

3. Army of Ambassadors

The latest statistics on employee engagement are scary. As much as 62 percent of the current workforce aren't engaged at work according to Gallup. Instead of exploring all the reasons for disengagement, it's more useful to determine if the problem exists in your organization. The simplest way to figure out if this out, is by determining if team members are ambassadors for your brand.

Do they talk about what they do with excitement? Do they recommend it as a place to work? Do they plan to work there in two years? If you are unsure or don't like the answers to these questions, it means there is work to do in creating an Army of Ambassadors.

4. Optimistic Belief 

At the core of any successful business or team is a deep unwavering belief in the future and what is possible. Colin Powell said it well in his book, It Worked for Me, "Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." The best leaders know that without optimism and belief, achieving higher levels of success isn't possible. Negativity and disbelief come from many places and if they exist in your company it will eat at your company culture day in and day out.

5. Competitive Compensation

Compensation can't be neglected in any business. To go back to the Chick-fil-A example, they don't pay their employees more on average than their nearest competitor KFC. Where culture begins to be impacted is where the compensation is below or well below industry averages for a sustained period of time. This can even be impacted by the perception of low compensation by team members vs. actual data that supports the perception.

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  • Oliver Bower

    Chick-fil-A's consistently ranks first in restaurant customer-service surveys. It has an exceptional service.

  • William Tenso

    The best companies invest more than their competitors in training their employees helping them advance their careers.

  • Finn Johnson

    To foster an elite culture within your organisation, ask new hires what their career goals are and then try to help them achieve those goals.

  • Emily Moore

    People are more motivated and respond better when you care about them.

  • David Woodham

    The better you train, the longer people stay with your company.

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John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

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