Company culture isn’t about ping pong tables or premium chocolate in the vending machine. It isn’t about nap rooms or extra time off.  Those are perks, not culture. Culture is the way members of an organization feel about coming to work and how they treat one another when they’re there. It’s about creating an atmosphere of encouragement and accountability where team members thrive and rave about the organization. According to EXIT Realty’s 2017 Humanitarian Award winner, Susan Hamblen, achieving excellence when it comes to corporate culture in a real estate brokerage starts with its leadership. “The leader has to be very intentional about how the company is going to feel to the people who work there,” she says. “Before we opened the doors at EXIT Realty Achieve, we had a strategic vision in place.  We wanted a company where people honored one another, where there would be collaboration and support, helpfulness and, of course, some fun.”

Hamblen recently shared her own explanation of service on Facebook. She writes, “I believe people should thrive in their workplace. I believe mindset, action, love and relationships matter. I believe people should buy and sell real estate with educated, trustworthy agents. Because of these beliefs, I have built a real estate company where people are honored, a company where agents are coached and trained so they can build better lives for themselves and better experiences for their clients.”

Countless books have been written on the subject of organizational culture yet doing it well remains challenging. Often leadership mistakenly believes culture will develop organically based on the personalities of the people who join their company, rather than setting out purposefully to develop it, in the same way they would develop a training program or social media strategy. Hamblen offers these suggestions:

  1. Establish a clear vision of what the company culture will look like.
  2. Hire to that vision rather than adapting the culture to fit the people. She says, “Hire great people who just happen to be agents.  It’s easier to train someone to be a good real estate agent than it is to be a good person.”
  3. Honor the relationships. She says, “Companies that are relational-led need fewer rules because in these companies there is a code of conduct and certain expected behaviors which honor that code.”

Leaders can’t be remote from their people and expect the company culture to thrive without them. “Leaders need to set the example by honoring and serving in any capacity they’re able,” Hamblen concludes. “Companies that have a healthy organizational culture clearly have a tail wind and they’re on a much faster track to success.”



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