Empowering Managers to Build Great Organizational Cultures

2 Minutes Read

I speak with many passionate HR innovators who have the same goal - improve the employee experience. The challenge is that each organization’s culture is unique and we all know there is no one size fits all solution. What if we re-frame it and think about “who can influence the employee experience the most?” Leadership, HR, employees themselves, nope.

It’s the manager!


The takeaway we’ve learned working with global organizations is that managers have the deepest insights into the culture and so alas, we work hard at giving managers the ability to lead the development of a great workplace.

Here are three things you can do to give your managers the reigns to create and foster a great environment.

  • Empower them to build their own team culture from the ground up. Don’t wait for the company to push a culture into the team. Push the values, not the way to live those values. 
  • Help employees see themselves as agents of change inside and outside of work. Recognize the full person, not the divided work and out-of-work one, that humanizes the individual not only in the eyes of the manager, but in the eyes of the employee to create a stronger team. 
  • Celebrate old-fashioned hard work. Yes, I know it’s what they get paid to do. It is also a demonstration they are committed to the team’s success. 

Going Deeper

Each team can have its own flavor. Create a team culture that respects the achievements of members of the team without having to wait for the corporate culture to recognize maybe one person on the team. HR and the company must provide consistent guidance to ensure all managers have the same goals and values aligned with the organization. Then let them be themselves and reward members of the team as they see fit, so that their employee accomplishments feel deeper when the manager can make an authentic impact statement to the team. A fun euphemism is that we never see a cat skeleton in a tree - managers are like cats. Let them problem solve.

My mom used to say that there was a work version of herself and a home version. The good news is that we can celebrate the whole person in this work environment. People can bring their entire selves to work and utilize their skill sets. When managers celebrate the entire person, employee fulfillment is greater and they are eager to put themselves forward, not what they think the company wants.

Celebrate the journey and reward old-fashioned hard work. Employees that perform necessary, if unspectacular, operations deserve a shout out. Five positive reinforcements for every constructive piece of feedback is the formula that works best. They are the foundation of the workplace. Make sure to build strong and meaningful relationships by recognizing when the employee has done the simple act of working extra hard. By doing this, you can enhance that employee experience and make them feel like they’re part of a meaningful relationship.

Parting Thoughts

Leadership sets the vision. HR executes the vision. Employees live the vision. And managers bring the vision to life so that it has real meaning to people. In today’s workplace we bring our whole selves to work. Managers are the ones who invest the time to understand us and connect the impact our work has on ourselves and the organization.


Todd Horton