William Vanderbloemen on the 13 Questions to Understand Your Company Culture (Part I)


This blog post is Part I of two parts based on the recent book by William Vanderbloemen titled, Culture Wins [:] The Roadmap to an Irresistible Workplace

William Vanderbloemen is the founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group, the leading Christian executive search firm in the US and widely recognized as having a great company culture.  

ELO Network has a strategic partnership with Vanderbloemen Search Group to provide premium search services in Canada with a focus on sourcing values-aligned team members for Christian business owners. 

Vanderbloemen starts this book by talking about the imperative for companies and their leaders: “Discovering your culture is necessary because culture wins. It wins every time[x]. He reflects on the rapid growth of his firm, Vanderbloemen Search Group. He notes that “part of our success is our vetting process. We assess the culture of an organization before we agree to recruit for it, and if it has a toxic culture, we turn down the work” [xx].

How does he define culture? He explains: “Culture is about how a team uniquely functions when it’s at its best. It’s about how you function as a team when you’re working well. It’s about knowing the habits, customs, and mannerisms that are common to your team but uncommon in other teams. And ultimately, building an effective culture means knowing, memorializing and embedding them as cultural values the team is expected to live by” [12].

He discusses lessons he has learned: “We’ve found that if people are a good cultural fit, we can teach them the competencies” [19]. He often uses 90-day contracts as a starting point (unless the person is from out of town).

To understand your company's culture, he suggests asking these questions:

  1. Is there a basic code of human decency?
  2. Do people like working here?
  3. Are the best people (not slackers) referring their friends to work at the company?
  4. Do people trust the leadership of the organization?
  5. Are people communicating with one another at work?
  6. How much are you collaborating?
  7. Are you innovating, or working the way you always have?
  8. Are employees supported with the tools they need to do what they need to get done?
  9. Do people take responsibility and ownership of their work?
  10. Space matters. Do people like the space they are in?
  11. Is there alignment between the service you provide and the organization’s values?
  12. Does your organization have sustained high turnover?
  13. Does your company actively encourage and reward you for taking care of your non-work life?

To learn more about William Vanderbloemen's book, read our blog posts HERE.

In the blog post linked above, we discuss other nuggets from the book Culture Wins. “What is culture?” People would likely have a range of responses to that question. How would you respond? Like many things, you know it when you experience it, but it’s hard to describe. Further, what does culture mean in a work context? How is it measured and how is it understood? If you would like to learn the six most common questions regarding how to build “the culture” of an organization, this blog post is for you.