4 Important Tips for Building your Company Culture

By November 30, 2016GH Blog



By Kathleen Fox

Tim Richmond, senior vice president of human resources at AbbVie, spoke to our staff members as part of our ongoing Outside Speaker Series about the importance of culture within the fabric of a successful company.

He began by explaining his background and experience building a completely new cultural identity. In 2013, AbbVie spun off from Abbott Laboratories and became an independent business. This provided the opportunity for AbbVie to refine their internal and external culture as a new independent company.

Richmond and his team embraced this rare position and worked hard over the next few years to create a unique culture and identity that activated and excited every employee. They called this new culture, “The AbbVie Way.” Read more about the development of this in Profile magazine.

“Everything you do is a reflection of your culture,” said Richmond.

Here are four practical takeaways from his presentation on how to install and maintain a culture-centered approach at any organization.

Culture Matters

“You can have the best products and you can have the best services. But the environment that you create around the work that you do permeates everything in a positive way if you do it well.”

Oftentimes culture isn’t made a priority for busy, growing companies. But according to Richmond, culture is absolutely essential to every other facet of a company from business development, to employee retention, to revenue generation.

For AbbVie, this means culture is one of the three pillars of “The Abbie Way.” Those foundational elements include Our Business, Our Culture, and Our Remarkable Impact.

You Must Invest Time in your Culture

“You invest time, you invest energy, you invest resources into culture.”

Richmond emphasized that culture isn’t achieved quickly, but rather it requires the investment of a lot of time and has to be integrated into daily workplace life. But all the time and effort that you’ll allocate will serve your business, clients, and employees well.

First, create the right culture model and then hardwire it into your talent programs, business practices, and every facet of your business.

Make your Culture Active

“You have to activate these things. You’ve got to make them real and valuable for you.”

He continued that if “The AbbVie Way” had just become a buzzword or a saying on the bulletin board, it would have failed.

A big component of activating culture is involving everyone throughout the organization. This additional participation and transparency increases excitement, buy-in, and accountability company-wide.

In the case of AbbVie, staff members across the organization participated in a discussion to develop the tenants of their work. After much conversation, they ended up with these five:

  • All for One AbbVie
  • Decide Smart and Sure
  • Agile and Accountable
  • Clear and Courageous
  • Make Possibilities Real

Culture Isn’t Achieved Overnight

“One of the things I’ve learned is you can create the concepts, but if you don’t reinforce them, no one cares.”

Culture is an integral element of what you do and who you are, which drives both performance and satisfaction in the workplace. Consider what makes your organization truly special, distinguishes you from your competitors, and make your company a great place to work.

That means once your culture is in place, it must be fostered, rewarded, and monitored over time. For AbbVie that means professional development opportunities, team building exercises, and annual performance surveys.

After four years, Richmond says the time and effort has paid off for AbbVie. “One of my beliefs, and one of my learnings over time, is that culture matters,” he said.

The Outside Speaker Series features executives who have told their unique leadership stories in one of our publications, like Jason Montrie. To keep up with leading executives, like Tim Richmond, who are innovating in different industries subscribe for free to Profile magazine.