Does good work culture guarantee success?

What will it be about?

Work culture is most often discussed using the example of modern technology companies. Mention is made of such giants Google, Microsoft, Netflix, IBM… Most often these are companies with office workers. About them appear books, articles, podcasts. Why? Because having the means and time, they were the forerunners of innovation. Office-based companies, however, are not the only ones that need a change in work culture. On the contrary, manufacturing companies, to keep up with their times, need them more than ever.

So these are the ones we would like to focus on. They employ hundreds or thousands of so-called blue collar workers, or blue collar workers. They all make up the community that makes up the company. They differ in their roles, their division of responsibilities, their character. But each and every one of them wants to work in a place they most simply like.

We have experience working with clients in the manufacturing industry. What we learn from them motivates us to share ideas for change and practices that inspire us in these companies. We want companies in this industry to start being mentioned as places where the organizational culture is at a very high level and show that this brings very tangible benefits to the company and employees.

The examples in this post will be mainly (but not only!) related to technology / office companies, as best practices in this area have been defined there, but we will soon make available the second part of the post, in which we will try to transfer these examples to manufacturing companies.

And the content of the article itself, despite the topic of organizational culture will actually be related to internal communication. In what way? You’ll find out at the end 🙂

Work culture

To deal with the topic seriously, we need to be sure that it is a relevant topic. So maybe before I talk about why internal communication can take your organization to a new level, I’ll cite some arguments from companies that have already achieved success using its powers. Just to shore up their credibility. And each of these arguments begins with Culture… Culture Code, Culture Deck or Culture Manifesto. The exact name is unimportant, because only the culture (and lack thereof) of work is really at issue here.

What is work culture? Hubspot, in its Culture Code, defines it as a set of beliefs, values and practices shared by people. Culture is something that, when built correctly, makes people do their jobs to the best of their ability. It’s worth taking a look at how the best do it:

Culture Code: Creating A Lovable Company from HubSpot

Culture happens to us, whether we want it to or not. Our employees will form a more-or-less homogeneous group. They may be comfortable in it, or they may be counting down the minutes to leave work each day. It all depends on how a person finds himself in the culture of a particular company.

And since culture happens to us anyway, why not create one that both we and the employees will love?

To create a work culture, it’s worthwhile to start by understanding a little theory about how it is created. Laszlo Bock, in his book “Work Rules!” writes about several ways to study a group’s culture. This can be done by:

  • Learning about its manifestations, such as physical space and behavior
  • Studying its beliefs and values
  • Learning where such and not other values in the group exist (i.e., about the individual goals of employees

By paying attention to these elements, we can assess our team’s satisfaction or needs. A comfortable space built by employees will reflect their sense of commitment to the workplace. Their beliefs and values will be their motivators when they reflect the company’s beliefs. In turn, understanding why such values drive them will allow the most satisfying management style to be selected.

That’s it briefly and in a word of introduction. Cultural manifestations can be seen everywhere and every day in the company. Unfortunately, they are usually ignored. And yet they are the best expression of how our work culture works. Both the entire culture and its individual foundations.

Well, that’s right, because Laszlo, in addition to what is visible and somewhat less so, also describes the (theoretical) foundations of culture in the workplace:

  • Mission
  • Transparency
  • Voice

And about them now a few words.

Foundations of culture


A mission is the basic purpose that a company has. A short phrase that will make everyone know why the company makes the decisions it does and not others. In the case of Google, it is:

Organize the world’s information resources so that they are universally accessible and useful

In his book, Laszlo also describes the missions of other companies. For example, for IBM it will be

To turn advanced technology into value for our customers.

For McDonald’s:

Continuous improvement of the operating system and enhancement of the customer experience

Although they sound similar, the difference between the missions of these companies is fundamental. McDonald’s and IBM have customer-centric goals. Google’s goal is more about social benefit than business benefit. And this is very evident in their work culture.

A survey completed by Google employees found that up to 91% of them see a clear connection between their individual work and Google’s goals.

And these are not just empty words. Understanding the company’s purpose has a colossal impact on motivation. And it’s not just in giants like Google. It even applies to small organizations. The proof?

Adam Grant, in his book Give and Take, describes a study on fundraisers – people who specialize in raising funds for social causes. A group of fundraisers had the opportunity to talk for five minutes with a person who was supposed to be a potential recipient of money from their fundraising. The result? Over the next month, the amount they raised increased by more than 400%!

The study excluded the influence of other variables. The only difference was that employees saw with their own eyes what they were actually doing and for whom.

We all want our work to have meaning. We need to help employees give it and remind them of it. If you’re a butcher you feed people. If you’re a plumber, you help keep people’s homes clean. If you work on a production line, you also produce something that makes people’s lives easier. Whatever you do, it matters to someone. A leader’s job is to help people find that meaning and understand it.

Think this doesn’t apply to production workers? Many studies show that it is relevant regardless of the type of work.


All major companies have their Culture Code: Google, Netflix, HubSpot, Patreon….

EACH of them describes one feature in their code:


Transparency is understood as access to information. Information of all kinds, not just about meeting dates or work calendars. It’s information about the company’s successes and failures, its plans, strategies and values. It’s access to data about equipment, about other employees and their work. It’s information about the company’s finances and the earnings of those employed.

The McKinsey&Company report “The great re-make: Manufacturing for modern times” makes this statement:

Transformations in which senior leaders openly communicated the progress, successes and implications for individuals in their daily work were about four to eight times more likely to succeed than transformations in which there was little or no communication.

Wanting to create transparent internal communication, we need to do the opposite of the usual – we should look for reasons why we won’t share specific information with employees. Not ones for which we will. Withholding or not providing information is a cultural shot in the foot. The benefit? All employees know what’s going on. To quote Laszlo:

It may sound trite, but it’s not. Large organizations often have groups doing unnecessary work without knowledge, wasting resources. Sharing information allows everyone to understand the differences in each group’s goals, avoiding internal rivalries. Companies that foster internal rivalry and obscure information between teams argue against this approach. Alfred Sloan created this type of culture as chairman of General Motors, leading to the fact that at one point GM had five major brands, each selling cars in varying degrees of competition with the others.

We don’t all have such huge companies to create different brands, but the same problem can exist on a smaller scale.

Sure, in larger companies we won’t consult plans with every employee. But every employee should know what the company’s current and long-term goals are and how it wants to achieve them.

Tesla’s four-page employee handbook (Tesla – The Anti-Handbook Handbook) also has a place for open communication:

Everyone at Tesla can and should email or talk to anyone else according to what they feel is the quickest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the company as a whole.

You can talk to your supervisor, you can talk to your supervisor’s supervisor, you can talk directly to a vice president in another department, you can talk to Elon – you can talk to anyone without anyone’s permission. What’s more, you should consider yourself obligated to do so until the right thing happens.

Bridgewater Associates is the world’s largest hedge fund, with assets of $145 billion. The company has 1,500 employees. Each of them has access to recordings of company meetings. This is part of their culture, described in the book Principles: Life & Work by Ray Dalio, founder of the company:

We get to the truth through radical transparency and pushing aside our ego. We want to discover our mistakes and personal weaknesses so we can become better

Employees are encouraged to be assertive, and discussions of misunderstandings and mistakes are considered an intentional part of the company’s culture, as they are believed to allow for both learning and progress.

Transparency contributes to the development of trust within the company. There is no concern that someone is inconsistent in talking about company plans or employees behind their backs.

Transparency also has its drawbacks. The most important of these is the risk of leaking company data. This is something that even the largest companies face. However, a good internal communication system is about trust and entrusting people with information in the hope that they will feel that nothing in the company is secret. Laszlo says:

“Basically, if you’re an organization that says ‘Our people are our most valuable resource’ (and that’s what most say) and you speak honestly, you have to be ready to be fully tranparent. Otherwise you are lying to your people and to yourself. You say people are important, but you treat them as if they are not. Transparency shows employees that you believe they are trustworthy and have good judgment. And by giving them more information about what’s going on (and how and why), you’ll enable them to do their jobs more effectively and contribute in ways that a top-down manager couldn’t possibly anticipate.

Treat your team as equals and trust them, and show that you want to share information with them. For a company that has not implemented any internal communication system before, even an employee suggestion box will be a small revolution. A revolution of allowing a voice.


Voice means giving employees input into how the company is run. So either you believe that people are good and want to hear their opinions, or you don’t and only give them access to a slice of the company. For many organizations, such a surrender of responsibility is a scary concept. And yet, it’s the only right one if you want to run your company in line with your values.

It’s not about making the company a socialist establishment ruled by employees. It’s about allowing those who care to emerge, who may have good ideas and bring constructive criticism.

Ethan Burris of the University of Texas at Austin said, “Encouraging employees to voice their ideas has long been recognized as a key factor in the quality of decisions and organizational effectiveness. Research on voice has shown the positive impact of employee expression on decision quality, team performance and organizational performance.”

In his book, Laszlo tells of a conversation with one of the HR leaders of a large company. She wanted to make people more innovative in their ideas. So she asked Laszlo for advice, since Google is known for its innovative culture.

One of her boss’s ideas was to create a “creativity room” with poufs, foosball and crunches. People were supposed to come up with brilliant ideas there.

Laszlo tried to talk her out of her mistake. After all, having such rooms is a side effect of Google’s work culture, not the reason for it (physical space is a manifestation of culture!). So he asked her if the company’s CEO could, for example, record meetings with the board of directors for employees, so they could learn what was important to the leaders and the focus of the meetings.

“No. That’s something we definitely won’t do,” she said.

“Then why don’t lower-ranking employees be able to come to meetings to take notes? They will then be able to spread the knowledge within the company?” – he asked

“No, we can’t share such information with juniors.”

They will not ask difficult questions.

They won’t give employees a budget for their own ideas. Who knows what they can do?

So Laszlo wished her good luck with the ballroom.

Is there no room for employees to contribute in a manufacturing company? They may not be deciding what the next product the company will release, but as part of their job duties they probably have plenty of ideas for improving their workplace.

Internal communication

How to integrate all this? Only now, having acquired the theoretical basics, do we turn to the topic of internal communication. We can’t outline the purpose and describe our activities to employees without communicating with them. We can’t manage to be transparent if we’re not going to share the company’s resources and messages with employees. We can’t give employees a voice if our communication is one-sided and authoritarian. Culture is communication. Communication is culture

As for a more official definition, we can use the one from the book “Internal Communcations,” authored by Liam FitzPatrick and Klavs Valskov.

Internal communications is the planned use of communication activities to systematically influence the knowledge, attitudes and behavior of current employees

Planned – because we need to know what we want to communicate to employees

Systematic – because the process requires knowledge and continuous work

Influential – because it spreads about giving employees a choice. They cannot be forced, for example, to accept the company’s values

Communication works best when it is a conversation. Mere transmission of information has limited utility. What really works is the ability to ask questions and respond to feedback.

In addition, extended communication means getting noticed. People want to be noticed, and it is impossible to appreciate someone without using communication. Systems for rewarding employees, describing the ideas of specific people in an internal application are all manifestations of listening and responding to employees. This also encourages others in the group to behave similarly.

Understanding what happens at the lowest levels is very difficult. It takes people or tools to connect the different positions in the hierarchy – to bridge the gap between the top and bottom of the organization. That’s where the power of internal communication tools lies. And these … can be quite different.

Want to learn about the different types of internal communication implementations in successful companies? Then I invite you to check out the next part of the article.

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