orkplace culture drives not only behavior but plays a critical role in innovation and customer services. Business leaders and business executives should consider everything possible to drive a culture where professionals and employees thrive. When the workplace culture aligns itself with the vision of the company the organization flows towards those goals.
Best Books on Workplace Culture: THE LIST
|1. Leadership Through COVID-19 and Beyond|
|2. Restoring the Soul of Business|
|3. No Hard Feelings|
|4. Courageous Culture|
|5. The Remix|
|6. No Rules Rules|
|7. A CEO Only Does Three Things|
|8. Trust Factor|
|9. Connection Culture|
|10. The Critical Few|
|11. The Infinite Game|
|12. Herding Tigers|
|13. Would You Do That to Your Mother?|
|14. Radical Candor|
|15. Work Inspired|
|17. The Customer-Driven Culture|
|18. The Fearless Organization|
|19. The Service Culture Handbook|
1. Leadership Through COVID-19 and Beyond | By Helen Battersby and Anne Stenborn
In Leadership Through COVID-19 and Beyond the authors present a simple yet insightful framework, the Discovery Prism© to support all of us in the turbulent times we are in. This is a guide to reconnecting the positive human energy in organizations toward a shared purpose and extraordinary possibility.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused disruption on an unprecedented scale and calls for people in organizations to operate at a new level of consciousness in order to survive and re-emerge stronger. A different kind of leadership is urgently required that invites everyone to play a part in creating the kind of organizations where people and the planet thrive.
The Discovery Prism© framework serves as a guide to organizational alignment and renewal, by mapping out what is and is not connected. These broken connections cause confusion, disengagement, and waste the precious human resource at the heart of any organization. The exploration of the Discovery Prism© helps create shared meaning, a clear direction, and engaged stakeholders.
The Discovery Prism© describes a set of six lenses, which, when aligned, create energy greater than the sum of the parts. Some lenses are familiar and already at the core of all business practice and others are often given little consideration but are key to creating an integrated organization: resilient, sustainable, and better placed to navigate the uncertainties of the 21st-century environment.
2. Restoring the Soul of Business | By Rishad Tobaccowala
Named by Time as a top-five marketing innovator, Rishad Tobaccowala draws on research and interviews, as well as over three decades of experience as a business and thought leader, to describe how digilog companies—ones where digital tools and analog people are integrated expertly—develop a hybrid consciousness and learn to be proactive when they see warning signs that human traits are being subordinated to technology and data only decisions.
Restoring the Soul of Business provides practical tools and techniques that every organization can and should implement, and challenges readers to move forward with the kind of balance that catalyzes transformation and produces one great success after another.
- Understand how to unleash the significant benefit that can be realized by combining emotion and data, human and machine, analog and digital.
- Spot the warning signs of data-blinded companies: cold cultures with little human interaction, poor innovation stemming from stifled employees not encouraged to contribute ideas or insights, and poor customer service due to automated, robotic processes that cause frustration and hurt the brand.
- Explore how organizations of various sizes and from different industries, from Walmart and IBM to Starbucks and Domino’s to Netflix and Google, have successfully reoriented their thinking on how to fuse technology and humanity.
- Gain skills to become an expert in connections critical to growth and success, including the connection between being creative and using technology, between succeeding today and thriving tomorrow, and between leveraging networks and creating new ideas and approaches.
Everyone working in an organization will find penetrating observations and guidance about how and why establishing the proper balance between human intuition and creativity and data-driven insights can lead to increased revenue, profitability, retention—and even joy—in their careers and business.
3. No Hard Feelings | By Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy
How do you stop the office grouch from ruining your day? How do you enjoy a vacation without obsessing about the unanswered emails in your inbox? If you’re a boss, what should you do when your new, eager hire wants to follow you on Instagram?
The modern workplace can be an emotional minefield, filled with confusing power structures and unwritten rules. We’re expected to be authentic, but not too authentic. Professional, but not stiff. Friendly, but not an oversharer. Easier said than done!
As both organizational consultants and regular people, we know what it’s like to experience uncomfortable emotions at work – everything from mild jealousy and insecurity to panic and rage. Ignoring or suppressing what you feel hurts your health and productivity — but so does letting your emotions run wild.
Our goal in this book is to teach you how to figure out which emotions to toss, which to keep to yourself, and which to express in order to be both happier and more effective. We’ll share some surprising new strategies, such as:
* Be selectively vulnerable: Be honest about how you feel, but don’t burden others with your deepest problems.
* Remember that your feelings aren’t facts: What we say isn’t always what we mean. In times of conflict and miscommunication, try to talk about your emotions without getting emotional.
* Be less passionate about your job: Taking a chill pill can actually make you healthier and more focused.
Drawing on what we’ve learned from behavioral economics, psychology, and our own experiences at countless organizations, we’ll show you how to bring your best self (and your whole self) to work every day.
4. Courageous Culture | By Karin Hurt and David Dye
From executives complaining that their teams don’t contribute ideas to employees throwing up their hands because their input isn’t sought–company culture is the culprit. Courageous Cultures provides a road map to build a high-performance, high-engagement culture around sharing ideas, solving problems, and rewarding contributions from all levels.
Many leaders are convinced they have an open environment that encourages employees to speak up and are shocked when they learn that employees are holding back. Employees have ideas and want to be heard. Leadership wants to hear them. Too often, however, employees and leaders both feel that no one cares about making things better. The disconnect typically only widens over time, with both sides becoming more firmly entrenched in their viewpoints.
Becoming a courageous culture means building teams of micro innovators, problem solvers, and customer advocates working together. A micro innovator is an employee who consistently seeks out small, but powerful, ways to improve the business. A problem solver is an employee who cares about what’s not working and wants to make it better. They uncover and speak openly about what’s not working and think critically about how to fix it. A customer advocate is an employee who sees through your customers’ eyes and speaks up on their behalf. They actively look for ways to improve customers’ experience and minimize customer frustrations.
In our world of rapid change, a courageous culture is your competitive advantage. It ensures that your company is “sticky” for both customers and employees. In this book, you’ll learn practical tools to uncover, leverage, and scale the best ideas from every level of your organization.
- See how the latest research conducted by the authors confirms why organizations struggle when it comes to creating strong cultures where employees are encouraged to contribute their best thinking.
- Learn proven models and tools that leaders can apply throughout all levels of the organization, to reengage and motivate employees.
- Understand best practices from companies around the world and learn how to apply these strategies and techniques in your own organization.
5. The Remix | By Lindsey Pollak
Millennials have become the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, and Generation Z workers are right behind them. Leaders and organizations must embrace the new ways of working that appeal to the digital-first generations while continuing to appeal to Baby Boomers and Generation X, who will likely remain in the workforce for decades to come.
Within any organization, team, meeting, or marketing opportunity, you will likely find any combination of generations, each with their own attitudes, expectations, and professional styles. To lead and succeed in business today, you must adjust to how Millennials work, continue to accommodate experienced colleagues, and pay attention to the next generations coming up. The Remix shows you how to adapt and win through proven strategies that serve all generations’ needs. The result is a workplace that blends the best of each generation’s ideas and practices to design a smarter, more inclusive work environment for everyone.
As a leading expert on the multigenerational workplace, Lindsey Pollak combines the most recent data with her own original research, as well as detailed case studies from Fortune 500 companies and other top organizations. Pollak outlines the ways businesses, executives, mid-level managers, employees, and entrepreneurs can tackle situations that may arise when diverse styles clash and provides clear strategies to turn generational diversity into a business opportunity.
Generational change is impacting all industries, all types of organizations, and all leaders. The Remix is an essential guide for anyone looking to navigate today’s multigenerational workplace, which is more diverse and varied than ever before.
6. No Rules Rules | By Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer
There has never before been a company like Netflix. It has led to nothing short of a revolution in the entertainment industries, generating billions of dollars in annual revenue while capturing the imaginations of hundreds of millions of people in over 190 countries. But to reach these great heights, Netflix, which launched in 1998 as an online DVD rental service, has had to reinvent itself over and over again. This type of unprecedented flexibility would have been impossible without the counterintuitive and radical management principles that cofounder Reed Hastings established from the very beginning. Hastings rejected the conventional wisdom under which other companies operate and defied tradition to instead build a culture focused on freedom and responsibility, one that has allowed Netflix to adapt and innovate as the needs of its members and the world have simultaneously transformed.
Hastings set new standards, valuing people over process, emphasizing innovation over efficiency, and giving employees context, not controls. At Netflix, there are no vacation or expense policies. At Netflix, adequate performance gets a generous severance, and hard work is irrelevant. At Netflix, you don’t try to please your boss, you give candid feedback instead. At Netflix, employees don’t need approval, and the company pays top of the market. When Hastings and his team first devised these unorthodox principles, the implications were unknown and untested. But in just a short period, their methods led to unparalleled speed and boldness, as Netflix quickly became one of the most loved brands in the world.
Here for the first time, Hastings and Erin Meyer, bestselling author of The Culture Map and one of the world’s most influential business thinkers, dive deep into the controversial ideologies at the heart of the Netflix psyche, which have generated results that are the envy of the business world. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with current and past Netflix employees from around the globe and never-before-told stories of trial and error from Hastings’s own career, No Rules Rules is the fascinating and untold account of the philosophy behind one of the world’s most innovative, imaginative, and successful companies.
7. A CEO Only Does Three Things | By Trey Taylor
Whether you’re a new CEO trying to navigate chaotic workdays or a veteran of the C-Suite trying to reignite your passion, the focus is your most important asset. Many owners and CEOs think they have to be involved in every aspect of their business. They spend valuable brainpower on low-priority decisions. Before long, they’re overworked and burned out.
Instead of doing everything, it’s time to focus on the right things.
A CEO Only Does Three Things zeroes in on the three pillars of business: culture, people, and numbers. Steeped in twenty-plus years of practical knowledge, training, and consulting with some of the world’s largest companies, this indispensable guide shows how to articulate the right culture for your business, hire people with the right mindsets, and inspire your teams to produce optimal results.
Hundreds of CEOs have used Taylor’s methods to create fulfilled, efficient, professional lives, and you can join them. Learn how to focus on the work you love—and avoid CEO burnout.
8. Trust Factor | By Paul J. Zak
Why is the culture of a stagnant workplace so difficult to improve? For decades, business leaders have been equipping themselves with every book, philosophy, reward, and program the so-called experts have convinced them to buy into, yet companies everywhere continue to struggle with toxic cultures, and the unhappiness and low productivity that go with them. In Trust Factor, neuroscientist Paul Zak shows that innate brain functions hold the answers we’ve been looking for. Put simply, the key to providing an engaging, encouraging, positive culture that keeps your employees energized is trust. When someone shows you trust, a feel-good jolt of oxytocin surges through your brain and triggers you to reciprocate. This simple mechanism creates a perpetual trust-building cycle between management and staff, and–voilá!–the end of stubborn workplace patterns. Incorporating science-backed insights for building high-trust organizations with successful examples from The Container Store, Zappos, and Herman Miller, Trust Factor explains:• How brain chemicals affect behavior• Why trust gets squashed• How to stimulate trust within your employees• And more stop recycling the same ineffective strategies and programs for improving culture. Learn to cultivate a workplace where trust, joy, and commitment compounds naturally by harnessing the power of neurochemistry!
9. Connection Culture | By Michael Lee Stallard
10. The Critical Few | By Jon R. Katzenbach, Robert Moritz, James Thomas, and Gretchen Anderson
Without a deep understanding of your company’s culture, any change effort you undertake will fail. Bestselling author Jon Katzenbach and his coauthors identify the four most critical cultural elements leaders need to focus on.
In a global survey by the Katzenbach Center, 80 percent of respondents believed that their organization must evolve to succeed. But a full quarter of them reported that a change effort at their organization had resulted in no visible results. Why?
The fate of any change effort depends on whether and how leaders engage their culture: the self-sustaining patterns of behaving, feeling, thinking, and believing that determine how things are done in an organization. Culture is implicit rather than explicit, emotional rather than rational–that’s what makes it so hard to work with, but that’s also what makes it so powerful.
For the first time, this book lays out the Katzenbach Center’s proven methodology for identifying your culture’s four most critical elements: traits, characteristics that are at the heart of people’s emotional connection to what they do; keystone behaviors, actions that would lead your company to succeed if they were replicated at a greater scale; authentic informal leaders, people who have a high degree of “emotional intuition” or social connectedness; and metrics, integrated, thoughtful measures to track progress, encourage the self-reinforcing cycle of lasting change and link to business performance.
By leveraging these critical few elements, you can tap into a source of catalytic change within your organization. People will make an emotional, not just a rational, commitment to new initiatives. You will elicit enthusiasm and creativity and build the kind of powerful company that people recognize for its innate value and effectiveness.
11. The Infinite Game | By Simon Sinek
How do we win a game that has no end? Finite games, like football or chess, have known players, fixed rules, and a clear endpoint. The winners and losers are easily identified. Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. The rules of an infinite game are changeable while infinite games have no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers—only ahead and behind.
The question is, how do we play to succeed in the game we’re in?
In this revelatory new book, Simon Sinek offers a framework for leading with an infinite mindset. On one hand, none of us can resist the fleeting thrills of a promotion earned or a tournament won, yet these rewards fade quickly. In pursuit of a Just Cause, we will commit to a vision of a future world so appealing that we will build it week after week, month after month, year after year. Although we do not know the exact form this world will take, working toward it gives our work and our lives meaning.
Leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead us into the future.
12. Herding Tigers | By Todd Henry
Doing the work and leading the work are very different things. When you make the transition from maker to manager, you give ownership of projects to your team even though you could do them yourself better and faster. You’re juggling expectations from your manager, who wants consistent, predictable output from an inherently unpredictable creative process. And you’re managing the pushback from your team of brilliant, headstrong, and possibly overqualified creatives.
Leading talented, creative people requires a different skill set than the one many management books offer. As a consultant to creative companies, Todd Henry knows firsthand what prevents creative leaders from guiding their teams to success, and in Herding Tigers he provides a bold new blueprint to help you be the leader your team needs. Learn to lead by influence instead of control. Discover how to create a stable culture that empowers your team to take bold creative risks. And learn how to fight to protect the time, energy, and resources they need to do their best work.
Full of stories and practical advice, Herding Tigers will give you the confidence and the skills to foster an environment where clients, management, and employees have a product they can be proud of and a process that works.
13. Would You Do That to Your Mother? | By Jeanne Bliss
Customer experience pioneer Jeanne Bliss shows why “Make Mom Proud” companies outperform their competition. Her 5-step guide to customer experience and culture transformation makes this achievement possible.
Bliss urges companies to make business personal to earn ardent fans and admirers, by focusing on one deceptively simple question: “Would you do that to your mother?”
“Make Mom Proud” companies give customers the treatment they desire, and employees the ability to deliver it. They turn “gotcha” moments into “we’ve got your back” moments by rethinking business practices, and they enable employees to be part of the solution to fix customer frustrations.
Bliss scoured the marketplace seeking companies who excel at living their core values, grounded in what we all learned as kids. She offers a five-step plan for evaluating your current behaviors and implementing actions at every level of the organization.
Step 1. “Be the Person I Raised You to Be”
Understand how you are hiring, developing, and trusting employees to bring the best version of themselves to work. Vail resorts, for example, the world’s largest ski resort operator, banned the three words “Our policy is…” from their vocabulary, freeing employees to take spirited actions to deliver “the experience of a lifetime.”
Step 2. “Don’t Make Me Feed You Soap”
Learn the eight key frustrations that bind us as customers (waiting, fear, anxiety, the black hole of no communication, etc.) and how to apply actions from companies who are delivering a seamless, frictionless and easy experience.
Step 3. “Put Others Before Yourself”
Determine if your focus is on helping customers achieve their goals – and evaluate how that is fueling your growth. Canada’s Mayfair Diagnostics, for example, spent over a year studying the emotions of patients entering an imaging clinic, so they could redesign their welcome to deliver warmth and caring over procedure and process. The newly designed clinic achieved profitability in record time.
Step 4. “Take the High Road”
Learn how companies who do the right thing rise above the competition. Virgin Hotels, for example, named #1 U.S. hotel by Conde Nast Reader’s Choice Awards, walked away from price gouging at the mini bar, so you’ll never pay more for that Snickers bar than what you’d pay at the corner market.
Step 5. “Stop the Shenanigans!”
Evaluate your current company behaviors and identify the key actions that you can begin immediately.
With 32 case studies and examples from more than 85 companies, this is a practical and easy-to-follow guide for your experience and culture transformation. Filled with comics to snapshot our experiences as customers, a “mom lens” to reflect continuously on your performance, and a “make-mom-proud-odometer” quiz – the book makes Bliss’s approach accessible and approachable.
Join the movement to #MakeMomProud by applying this book across your organization. Whether you’re contemplating your company’s returns policy, its social media presence, or its big-picture strategy, this approach will help your company anticipate both employee and customer needs, extend patience, and show respect at all times.
14. Radical Candor | By Kim Scott
Featuring a new preface, afterword, and Radically Candid Performance Review Bonus Chapter, the fully revised & updated edition of Radical Candor is packed with even more guidance to help you improve your relationships at work.
‘Reading Radical Candor will help you build, lead, and inspire teams to do the best work of their lives.’ Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In.
If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all . . . right?
While this advice may work for home life, as Kim Scott has seen first hand, it is a disaster when adopted by managers in the workplace.
Scott earned her stripes as a highly successful manager at Google before moving to Apple where she developed a class on optimal management. Radical Candor draws directly on her experiences at these cutting-edge companies to reveal a new approach to effective management that delivers huge success by inspiring teams to work better together by embracing fierce conversations.
Radical Candor is the sweet spot between managers who are obnoxiously aggressive on the one side and ruinously empathetic on the other. It is about providing guidance, which involves a mix of praise as well as criticism – delivered to produce better results and help your employees develop their skills and increase success.
Great bosses have a strong relationship with their employees, and Scott has identified three simple principles for building better relationships with your employees: make it personal, get stuff done, and understand why it matters.
Radical Candor offers a guide to those bewildered or exhausted by management, written for bosses and those who manage bosses. Drawing on years of first-hand experience, and distilled clearly to give practical advice to the reader, Radical Candor shows you how to be successful while retaining your integrity and humanity. Radical Candor is the perfect handbook for those who are looking to find meaning in their job and create an environment where people love both their work and their colleagues and are motivated to strive for ever greater success.
15. WorkInspired | By Aron Ain
16. Powerful | By Patty McCord
When it comes to recruiting, motivating, and creating great teams, Patty McCord says most companies have it all wrong. McCord helped create the unique and high-performing culture at Netflix, where she was chief talent officer. In her new book, Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, she shares what she learned there and elsewhere in Silicon Valley.
McCord advocates practicing radical honesty in the workplace, saying good-bye to employees who don’t fit the company’s emerging needs, and motivating with challenging work, not promises, perks, and bonus plans. McCord argues that the old standbys of corporate HR―annual performance reviews, retention plans, employee empowerment, and engagement programs―often end up being a colossal waste of time and resources. Her road-tested advice, offered with humor and irreverence, provides readers a different path for creating a culture of high performance and profitability.
Powerful will change how you think about work and the way a business should be run.
17. The Customer-Driven Culture | By Travis Lowdermilk and Monty Hammontree
If you’re striving to make products and services that your customers will love, then you’ll need a customer-driven organization. As companies transform their businesses to meet the demands of the digital age, they find themselves grappling with uniquely human challenges. Organizational knowledge becomes siloed, employees move to safeguard their expertise, and customer data creates polarization and infighting between teams. All of these challenges widen the distance between the people who make your products and the customers who use them.
To meet today’s challenges, companies need to do more than build processes for customer-driven products. They need to create a customer-driven culture.
With the help of his friend and mentor Monty Hammontree, Travis Lowdermilk takes readers through the cultural transformation of the Developer Division at Microsoft. This book shows readers how to “hack” their culture and reduce the distance between them and their customers’ needs. It’s a uniquely personal story that’s told amidst a cultural revolution at one of the largest software companies in the world.
This story acts as your guide. You’ll learn how to:
- Establish a Common Language: Help employees change their thinking and actions
- Build Bridges, Not Walls: Treat product building as a team sport
- Encourage Learning Versus Knowing: Help your team understand their customers
- Build Leaders That Build Your Culture: Showcase star employees to inspire others
- Meet Teams Where They Are: Make it easy for teams to adopt vital behavior changes
- Make Data Relatable: Move beyond numbers and focus on empathizing with customers
18. The Fearless Organization | By Amy C. Edmondson
The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth offers practical guidance for teams and organizations who are serious about success in the modern economy. With so much riding on innovation, creativity, and spark, it is essential to attract and retain quality talent―but what good does this talent do if no one is able to speak their mind? The traditional culture of “fitting in” and “going along” spells doom in the knowledge economy. Success requires a continuous influx of new ideas, new challenges, and critical thought, and the interpersonal climate must not suppress, silence, ridicule, or intimidate. Not every idea is good, and yes there are stupid questions, and yes dissent can slow things down, but talking through these things is an essential part of the creative process. People must be allowed to voice half-finished thoughts, ask questions from left field, and brainstorm out loud; it creates a culture in which a minor flub or momentary lapse is no big deal, and where actual mistakes are owned and corrected, and where the next left-field idea could be the next big thing.
This book explores this culture of psychological safety and provides a blueprint for bringing it to life. The road is sometimes bumpy, but succinct and informative scenario-based explanations provide a clear path forward to constant learning and healthy innovation.
- Explore the link between psychological safety and high performance
- Create a culture where it’s “safe” to express ideas, ask questions, and admit mistakes
- Nurture the level of engagement and candor required in today’s knowledge economy
- Follow a step-by-step framework for establishing psychological safety in your team or organization
Shed the “yes-men” approach and step into real performance. Fertilize creativity, clarify goals, achieve accountability, redefine leadership, and much more. The Fearless Organization helps you bring about this most critical transformation.
19. The Service Culture Handbook | By Jeff Toister
Imagine you could develop a customer-focused culture so powerful that your employees always seem to do the right thing. They encourage each other, proactively solve problems, and constantly look for ways to go the extra mile.
The Service Culture Handbook is a step-by-step guide to help you develop a customer-focused culture in your company, department, or location. Whether you’re just beginning your journey, or have been working on culture for years, this handbook will prepare you to take the next step. You’ll receive actionable advice, straightforward exercises, and proven tools you can utilize immediately.
Learn the one thing that forms the foundation of every great culture. Discover what customer-focused companies do differently to engage their employees. And explore ways to strategically align every facet of your organization with outstanding service.
Creating and sustaining a customer-focused culture is a never-ending journey that takes hard work, dedication, and commitment. The Service Culture Handbook is an indispensable resource to help you and your employees stay headed in the right direction.
Final Thoughts on the Best Books on Workplace Culture
Workplace culture is important because it strengthens or either undermines your vision for the organization. A positive workplace culture attracts talent, drives engagement and retention, impacts satisfaction and happiness, and impacts performance.
Do you see a book that you think should be on the list? Let us know your feedback here.