Strategic Planning

Training Company Culture: Shaping Expectations

Caleb Shull 6 minute read
A group of professionals holding a meeting in a conference room.

Setting out to train employees in company culture is a difficult proposition. Most companies have some kind of culture or values training, but these kinds of courses are somewhat notorious. Employees often view values and culture training as insincere, especially if management is not living out the principles being taught. If the training is not aligned with how things are really being done, that can create dissatisfaction.

Most company culture simply isn’t created in a training course. It is the result of employees and management organically interacting with each other and establishing shared expectations of how things ought to be done. But this organic development of culture creates several problems.

New employees being onboarded can often struggle to quickly adapt to the feel of the workplace. Workers who are partially or fully remote struggle to engage in the kind of informal “water-cooler talk” that is often essential for transmitting cultural norms in the workplace. And problematic cultural norms can develop that are harmful to employees and put the company at risk.

While training rarely creates company culture, it can play a critical role in transferring and managing it. By communicating, demonstrating, and reinforcing expectations, the Training team can assist in ensuring a uniform and positive cultural environment. Training is already well-positioned to be a change leader within an organization. Taking the lead on company culture is something no other department is as well-equipped to do.

A Universal Touchpoint For Workers

One of the Training team’s unique advantages is that nearly every employee in a given organization will directly interact with them at some point. Training, particularly onboarding and values-training, is universal, and that universality can be an important common ground for large companies.

One common cultural issue is the development of differing cultures in different departments. To an extent, this is normal and expected, and shouldn’t be completely eliminated. But it can contribute to a siloed mindset and cause clashes when departments are expected to cooperate.

Other, even simpler issues, may confound new workers. Day to day practices such as dress codes and personal management styles should be incorporated into onboarding. That can help new employees adjust, and help apply a degree of standardization throughout the organization.

Incorporating an honest introduction to the company’s culture into onboarding can be a key step in bringing on new employees with less friction. It can also serve as an important reminder to existing employees about the expectations the company has for daily practices.

Leveraging that universality could be as simple as encouraging employees to dress more casually. It could be as complex as reimagining how data should be used within the organization. The end result is always the Training team as a centerpiece of broader business strategy.

Remotely Instilling Culture

Remote workers face a difficult scenario when trying to adjust to the culture of a new organization. Because so much culture is passively generated and absorbed through informal interactions with coworkers, remote workers can struggle to become familiar with the informal working procedures of their coworkers. Many remote workers only interact with their colleagues in highly structured scenarios, such as scheduled meetings. Some norms will be transmitted in highly structured settings, but becoming immersed fully in company culture is difficult to do though this kind of environment.

Training teams can step in to provide remote workers assistance and direct communication that clears up confusion regarding company culture for remote workers. Regular sessions going over company values are just as important for remote workers as sessions covering company policy.

Ensuring that managers and leaders are given proper training and guidance in demonstrating company values and culture is also essential. Employees will immediately see through insincere values training, and thus the Training team must ensure that the company is practicing what it preaches.

Ensuring that managers, remote workers, and in-office employees are all on the same page regarding company culture is a difficult task. But it can be tackled with the right systems for tracking and incorporating feedback. What’s needed is a reporting architecture capable of associating learner, instructor, and manager feedback with specific events. Analysis through that system could provide insights into how effective your culture training is.

Greater Control Over Company Culture

The best kind of company culture develops organically from below. Employees, managers, and other stakeholders come to unspoken agreements about the best way to do things. These organic agreements, if healthy, can promote maximized productivity while minimizing employee stress and burnout.

Sometimes, however, that unspoken agreement may be problematic. Recent years have seen an upswing in public and regulatory scrutiny of organizational culture. In particular, a strong public push to end discrimination and harassment in the workplace means that companies need to be extremely diligent about detecting and correcting issues within their workplace culture.

Training is the primary channel available to companies for changing their culture. Interrupting a problematic workplace culture requires a sustained effort. Ongoing engagement with employees and reinforcement of values is the only way a change can be affected. That process should involve the Training team at every step, creating, delivering, and assessing training content with a targeted culture change in mind.

Empower Company Culture Training With Administrate

L&D professionals have long been highly driven innovators who work hard to develop new methods and techniques for maximizing the effectiveness of the learner experience. But each new innovation creates a management burden, in a field already swamped by manual work. Training professionals need the capacity to refocus on complex tasks like directing and managing company culture. To make that possible, they need software tools that can keep up with the pace of change.

Administrate provides a powerful suite of functionality designed to make training, and training data, easier to manage. Your team shouldn’t be spending hours coordinating emails, or weeks creating course schedules. By automating much of that process for you, Administrate seeks to make sure that effort can be focused on the important things.

To learn more about how Administrate’s training management platform can improve your operations, feel free to take a look at our case study on how ForgeRock increased learner engagement using automated digital badging. You’ll learn how even simple automation changes on the Training team can have an outsized effect on your organization’s culture.


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