Creating a “Best Company” Culture

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff October 18, 2004

John Kreiss, president, SullivanKreiss , in a recent issue of his firm’s newsletter, talks about an organization called the Great Place to Work Institute, a workplace research and consulting firm headquartered in San Francisco. “[This firm] names the Best Small & Medium Companies to Work for in America,” says Kreiss. “Though you see these types of lists often, I find the stories about how some of the companies landed on this list to contain especially valuable lessons because they include plenty of specifics on what motivates employees.”

Firms can learn from these “best practices” companies, because they make the list largely due to what employees say about management, says Kreiss. And he suggests that is a valuable look at what staff thinks, not something mediated by public relations people.

Kreiss further discusses some important ideal gleaned from an article in the Society for Human Resource Management’s HR Magazine. The idea is that good companies offer good benefits and work environments, but great firms go beyond that, including the following:

Understanding employee needs.

Fostering teamwork.

Allowing the flexibility to innovate.

“An important consideration when you want to change company culture—either subtly or dramatically—is to hire people who can thrive in the type of environment you want your firm to become,” says Kreiss. “You can gain such insight about candidates during interviews.”

For example, he suggests that one can ask questions to deduce whether an interviewee is inclined to volunteer ideas. Or the interviewer can ask hypothetical questions about business problems to determine how a candidate might solve them.