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08 Best Books On Building A Great Workplace Culture  

Workplace culture is shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that shape the environment within an organization. It's the invisible force that guides how employees interact with each other, make decisions, and approach their work. An organization's culture is not just a buzzword, it's a critical factor that impacts everything from employee morale to productivity and even an organization's bottom line.

Books about workplace culture guide establishing dynamic and productive work settings. These books discuss organizational values, management techniques, and environmental elements that lead to increased employee contentment and the unlocking of employees' full capabilities.

According to Anne M. Mulcahy, the former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation, “Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best, encourage them, and stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.”

On the other hand, creating a positive workplace culture is crucial for the success and well-being of both employees and organizations. To gain a deeper understanding of this subject and learn how to cultivate a healthy work environment, consider reading the following books on workplace culture- 

  1. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

The Culture Code is a captivating exploration into the inner workings of successful groups and organizations. In this book, Coyle delves deep into the dynamics of group culture, unraveling the enigmatic factors that distinguish high-performing teams from the rest. The Culture Code offers its readers valuable insights and a roadmap to creating a more cohesive and successful environment. It's a must-read for anyone interested in the intricate art of building and sustaining a thriving organizational culture.

“The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”

  1. The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace by Ron Friedman

The Best Place to Work is a remarkable exploration of what makes a workplace truly exceptional. Drawing on extensive research in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and organizational behavior, Friedman provides readers with valuable insights into the art and science of crafting an extraordinary work environment. One of the book's key strengths is its focus on evidence-based strategies for enhancing employee engagement, productivity, and overall job satisfaction. Insights from the book are not only applicable to large corporations but also to startups, small businesses, and any organization striving to cultivate a positive workplace culture.

“The secret to happy workplaces isn’t spending more money. It’s about creating the conditions that allow employees to do their best work.”

  1. Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott

The central idea of Radical Candor revolves around the notion that effective leadership requires both a deep sense of empathy and the courage to provide honest and direct feedback. Scott argues that the best leaders are those who are not afraid to engage in candid conversations with their team members, addressing both their strengths and weaknesses constructively. By doing so, leaders can create an environment of trust and growth, which is essential for individual and organizational success.

“When bosses are too invested in everyone getting along they also fail to encourage the people on their team to criticize one another other for fear of sowing discord. They create the kind of work environment where being "nice" is prioritized at the expense of critiquing and therefore improving actual performance.”

  1. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Leaders Eat Last is a thought-provoking book and exploration of leadership, trust, and the role of empathy in today's organizations. Drawing on extensive research and real-life examples, Sinek explains that great leaders prioritize the well-being and success of their team members above all else, and provide a roadmap for creating organizations where people thrive, trust flourishes, and success follows.

“Returning from work feeling inspired, safe, fulfilled, and grateful is a natural human right to which we are all entitled and not a modern luxury that only a few lucky ones can find.”

  1. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness is a captivating and influential book that offers readers an inside look into the world of entrepreneurship and the transformative power of company culture. Tony Hsieh, the late CEO of Zappos, shares his remarkable journey, from his early entrepreneurial endeavors to building Zappos into a billion-dollar online retail giant with a unique and customer-focused culture.

The central theme of the book revolves around the idea that happiness, both for employees and customers, is a vital component of business success. He passionately believes that creating a company culture that prioritizes employee happiness and customer satisfaction ultimately leads to greater profits and long-term success.

“For individuals, the character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”

  1.  The Culture Quotient: Ten Dimensions of a High-Performance Culture by Greg Besner

The Culture Quotient is a practical guide that delves into the critical elements of organizational culture and their impact on performance. The central premise of The Culture Quotient is that a high-performance culture is not a vague or nebulous concept but something that can be clearly defined, measured, and improved upon. In this book, Besner identifies ten key dimensions that collectively make up a high-performance culture. 

“Together, the mission and values compose the company’s unique identity and way of operating. In a company with strong mission and value alignment, all employees know the mission and values, understand how they connect to their work, and see the mission and values consistently followed in day-to-day operations.”

  1. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick M. Lencioni

The idea of The Advantage is that organizational health encompasses more than just financial performance or strategy. It involves creating a cohesive leadership team, establishing clarity around the organization's values and goals, fostering open and effective communication, and cultivating a culture of trust and accountability. In essence, a healthy organization is one where people work together harmoniously towards a common purpose, and where politics, confusion, and dysfunction are minimized.

“The only way for the leader of a team to create a safe environment for his team members to be vulnerable is by stepping up and doing something that feels unsafe and uncomfortable first. By getting naked before anyone else, by taking the risk of making himself vulnerable with no guarantee that other members of the team will respond in kind, a leader demonstrates an extraordinary level of selflessness and dedication to the team. And that gives him the right, and the confidence, to ask others to do the same.”

  1. Work Rules by Laszlo Bock

Work Rules offers readers an inside look at the innovative and unconventional workplace practices that have made Google one of the world's most admired and successful companies. In this book, he outlines the principles and practices that underpin Google's unique approach to talent management, leadership, and creating an exceptional work environment.

“Does your manager trust you?” is a profound question. If you believe people are fundamentally good, and if your organization can hire well, there is nothing to fear from giving your people freedom.”

Each founder holds a unique viewpoint on the key factors that contribute to a successful company culture. Nevertheless, thriving workplaces tend to exhibit common features like employee empowerment, transparent communication, well-defined objectives, authentic connections, and shared values.

Fostering, expanding, and nurturing a genuine organizational culture is a continuous and deliberate undertaking. In response to evolving business dynamics, the workplace culture should adapt to meet the evolving needs and preferences of its employees.

On the other hand, a strong workplace culture can be a significant competitive advantage. It attracts top talent, retains employees, and enhances overall organizational performance. However, culture is not static, it evolves. Organizations that invest in understanding, cultivating, and nurturing their culture are better positioned to achieve long-term success. Reading organizational culture books helps professionals gain the skills and mindsets necessary to make their companies great places to work. 

Ayrin Saleha Ria works at Future Startup as a full-time Research Associate. She has a background in Applied Sociology. Before joining the FS team, she worked and volunteered with a number of social organizations. As someone who comes from a social science background, she takes a deep interest in research around important social-economic challenges in our society. A voracious reader, Ayrin is passionate about working for the betterment of society, takes a deep interest in human society and behavioral science, and loves books.

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