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VIEWPOINT: 5 New Year’s Resolutions to Make Your Business Culture a Winner

By Mark McClain


New Year’s resolutions are not only for individuals, but also for businesses. Company goals that leaders set for the year ahead are usually measured in data tied to categories like revenue production and expense reduction. 

 After a difficult 2020 due to COVID-19, many enterprises’ bottom-line numbers will take on extra importance in 2021. And business culture will be just as crucial. Any resolutions that company leaders make are an effective way to measure their work environment and help their teams to meet performance metrics.

Meeting individual, team, and company goals begin with employees and managers working well together in a vibrant environment. And given the changes and challenges of these times, culture and how leaders pay attention to it have never been more important. 

The bottom line falls into place when everyone is on the same page. But even if leaders have established a strong culture, it bears constant vigilance to ensure everyone is rowing in the same direction, especially now when a volatile world can threaten to throw even the most solid companies off course. 

Here are five business-culture resolutions for the New Year that leaders could consider. 

• Focus on shared values. I think it’s misleading to frequently state that a “family atmosphere” exists in a company. The bigger a business gets or the more it grows in capability and value, the less it’s going to feel like a family. Creative friction and disagreement on processes and concepts are inevitable. Smart companies leverage broader, shared values as common ground on which workers can connect. I have found that one of the best places for doing that is through service to the community beyond company walls. If your culture encourages people to work together for some greater good, they will continue to appreciate each other as humans and fellow workers. 

• Avoid prima donnas. Talented people are essential for a successful business, but don’t fall in love with gifted people if they are constantly letting you know how special they are. Watching them work can be breathtaking, but not when they’re the ones sucking the air out of the room.

• Double down on integrity. Large legacy companies are often loaded with people who are just taking up space and collecting a paycheck. It’s a significant issue, and it goes hand-in-hand with integrity. Effective workers know the difference between busywork and producing value. Everybody in the organization must be clear on what success looks like. The role of management is to be clear on objectives and then let people run.

• Don’t stop innovating. Many companies stagnate in this area and should learn how to expand their innovations while encouraging the cultivation of new ideas. Innovation is an amalgam of product marketing and product-management skills, of listening to the market, and of engineering people who can take a problem and figure out how to solve it. But innovation should apply in every direction — in how a company contracts, how it sells, and how it markets.

• Be the first to own mistakes. Anyone who has been involved in conflict directly knows there is always the sense that both parties have some responsibility. The sooner you own yours, the more likely the other person will own theirs — and the project can move forward.

New Year’s resolutions are often easily discarded because of a person’s lack of commitment. For business leaders and their workforce, they reflect company core values and can create or improve a culture that everyone will appreciate and aspire to uphold and deepen.      

Mark McClain (, is author of “Joy and Success at Work: Building Organizations that Don’t Suck (the Life Out of People)” and CEO of SailPoint, a company in the enterprise identity management industry. 


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