Interview: Walking the talk

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TALENT acquisition and retention is a hot topic and has been for some time. It is a challenge for many organisations and industries, particularly as the debate continues about the pros and cons of remote, hybrid or office-based working. But, is location the main defining factor in determining where professionals want to work? In a wider sense, is it more about a sense of belonging and how can executives create that environment?

Bogdan Apostol, co-founder and CEO at Nestor, the people intelligence platform that helps organisations engage, develop and retain talent, recently shared his views about company culture with Orla Clancy, editor-in-chief at Strategic

The Y Combinator alumni, startup advisor, and serial entrepreneur with a passion for innovation, said company culture is not some nice words or a check-box that organisations and people should stick to, only to follow some rules. Company culture is rooted in those sets of core values that make your company unique and represents best what you stand for, and what your beliefs are.

He said the CEO is one of the main drivers in making this concept easy to understand and accessible for everyone, especially if you are just starting to build your company culture. “If you want to bring your people on the same page, start by defining those attitudes and values that are beneficial and in line with your company’s objectives and act as a role model yourself. Words alone are not enough. They must always translate into actions and appropriate behaviours,” he said. 

“Assume the vision, explain and help people understand it so they get a common understanding and clear visibility of the bigger picture,” said Apostol. “Use this opportunity to involve them in the process and gain different insights and perspectives. Encourage and nurture those positive behaviours and attitudes that encompass your company’s values through constant communication and feedback loops.”

According to Apostol simply setting up a set of values and making them known inside the organisation is not enough. Values need to be authentic, reflect the beliefs of the entire organisation and paint a clear picture of how they will help achieve the mission. “You need to walk the talk, and this starts with the C-level all the way down to each employee in the organisation,” he said. “The company culture and the values that make it need to be reflected in every action that everyone in the company does day to day. It must become an unconscious way of doing things. This is the best way to propagate it through the organisation, and also keep a strong company culture as the organisation grows and onboards new employees.”

Communication is one of the core values of strong company culture. With the rise of post-pandemic hybrid workplaces, communication has become increasingly important in enhancing team collaboration. “When used effectively and, most of all, at a constant pace, communication helps run processes and daily activities smoother and brings people together around common objectives.”

“From my experience of working with companies from different market segments, transparent and open communication can contribute to a boost in employee morale as well as higher rates of engagement and productivity,” he said. “When you communicate openly by using all channels and tools at your disposal you encourage exchanging opinions or information, shared knowledge, or even contributions to common goals. This way you get the chance to make your people part of your story, give them a purpose and a sense of belonging, and, ultimately, drive better results at the individual level, for teams and the organisation alike.”

Culture is central to companies, but how do we truly engage, both internally and externally? “You need a variety of tactics to promote and evolve your company culture and the best way to do it is from the inside out,” said Apostol. “Leveraging the right tools certainly helps. Internal channels should focus on fostering easy communication and collaboration between team members, as well as between employees and their team leaders. Workplace expectations are shifting and you must make sure your communication and company culture keep pace with these changes.”

Communication should not be a one-way street, he explained, but rather encompass your employees’ expectations, and development needs by collecting feedback regularly. “The more feedback you collect, the better you can improve your internal communications and also your company culture, and employee satisfaction. Keeping your employees engaged and happy and offering them opportunities to develop is crucial since those employees are your best brand ambassadors outside your organisation,” he said.

Nestor’s goal is to match business needs with people’s needs while fostering a culture of high growth and leadership, but Apostol said that building a strong company culture is not something that happens in the background, you need to be intentional about it and put the time into building and maintaining it.