What do Wells Fargo, Uber, Yahoo and Volkswagen all have in common?  They all at one time had impeccable reputations and a strong corporate culture. 

So the big question is, what happened?  

My contention is they never really had a strong culture at all nor did they know how to hire those from the workforce that could transition to their culture.  Over the next two months I will be writing a series of blogs to share my insights and observations about this thing called Corporate Culture.

We’ll start with this one that asks the following questions: What is a corporate culture? Who owns the culture of a company? Can you really change a culture without changing all of your employees? The two definitions of a corporate culture that has been bantered around the HR function for years are:

  1. Show me a company’s incentive plans and I’ll show you their culture.
  2. The culture of any company is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate. In the case of the above mentioned companies, this one seems to be true.

Through my experiences, I have found that those companies with a successful culture have two things in common:

  1. They all have created an environment that is very attractive to the types of employees they want in their company, e.g.; Google. Google takes hiring at all levels very seriously.  This has to be one of  the most significant responsibilities of every employee involved in the hiring process. If you are hiring talent without regards to your culture and the candidate’s fit in that culture, you are wasting your time.
  2. Great companies with great cultures can see the value in striking the balance between compliance with their culture while creating a space for individuals to feel free to be themselves. This will become one of leadership’s biggest challenge in the future workforce. This task won’t be easy but it can be done. It’ll require a lot of listening, empathy, understanding the customer’s challenges, and leadership transparency.

What do you think — what have you seen that makes a company’s culture great? Let me know in the comments.

My next blog will look at employee engagement and what, if any, impact it has on corporate culture.  Click below to subscribe to the Kolbe blog to get the next installments. See ya soon!

Posted by Kolbe Corp

Our mission is to help people succeed by having the Freedom to Be Themselves. We’ve discovered the secret to what makes people tick – the instincts that drive individual and group behaviors. Our validated assessments help you learn your conative strengths, and how these innate strengths fit into jobs, relationships, and on teams. Conation -- the power behind performance – determines your M.O. (modus operandi), and the true culture of any group.


  1. david B corbin July 5, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Frank: Love this topic. Like you, I have just about seen it all: from Red Bull to Nestle. Eager to read more of your thoughts on this. In the meantime, I’ll simply reference. “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by Edward Gibbon.


  2. Looking forward to your series on this Frank. I too have been in several companies both large (>30,000 employees) and small (Employee #12 – which used Kolbe “A” to hire by the way).


  3. I would be interested to see how understanding “corporate culture” relates to employee satisfaction within government agencies, too.


  4. Thanks for pposting this


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