empowering flexibility

Heraclitus famously said, “Change is the only constant,” a principle that holds as true for businesses as it does for life. In a world where adaptability can make or break success, flexibility isn’t just beneficial; it’s essential.

Studies consistently reveal the power of a flexible corporate culture in enhancing organizational effectiveness and boosting performance. Whether it’s smoother implementation of information systems (Lepore et al., 2018), improved company performance through HR adaptability (Ngo & Loi, 2008), or fostering job satisfaction via authentic leadership (Azanza, Moriano, & Molero, 2013), the message is clear: flexibility enriches both the workplace and its people.

Beyond the research, how does flexibility manifest in the real world? Consider the employee navigating personal challenges, the professional feeling stagnant after years in the same role, or the organization facing unforeseen global events or disruptive tech. These scenarios underscore the need for flexibility at both individual and corporate levels.

Two foundations for flexibility.

Clear expectations.
Not everyone is naturally (equally) flexible, and that’s perfectly fine. Articulating the flexibility your organization offers (or demands) demystifies it for your team. It’s about setting the stage for what’s expected and how employees can navigate their roles with agility. This requires mapping professional expectations for both people and jobs.

Empowered autonomy.
Rigid, bureaucratic procedures — even though necessary in some cases — can stifle innovation and morale. Instead, empowering your team with autonomy not only fosters a deeper connection to their work but also encourages a culture where flexibility thrives.


“Belonging” is the pivotal ‘B’ in the alphabet of organizational culture, serving as a cornerstone for a robust and positive workplace environment.

The trio of affirmation, belonging, and competence are identified as vital components of a corporate culture that is both people-focused and inspirational. As highlighted by a study dating back to 2008, it is the sense of connectedness, the feeling of belonging, that resonates deeply within us—not only as individuals but also as colleagues.

Employees who experience a sense of belonging see their roles as more than just jobs. Their work becomes intertwined with their identity, making it more likely for everyday tasks to feel meaningful.

Conversely, where a ‘sense of belonging’ is missing, the result is often a disjointed workforce characterized by isolation, competition, and a pervasive sense of disengagement. In such environments, departmental silos, metaphorically thick and towering, certainly do nothing to bridge these divides.

Among the various initiatives that can cultivate a sense of belonging, two stand out: a commitment to inclusivity and the encouragement of open communication.

What other initiatives can you think of that might contribute to a greater sense of belonging?


Appreciation is much more than a pat on the back. Appreciation and recognition are the building blocks of a healthy corporate culture.

Gallup research shows that employees who do not feel adequately valued are twice as likely to leave the company in the coming year. Another study by SHRM shows that 68% of companies that strategically handle recognition score significantly higher on employee engagement.

One way to facilitate appreciation is by organizing frequent feedback sessions. It’s important to note that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The old adage, “my door is always open,” doesn’t work (for everyone). Some employees actively seek feedback, while others prefer to leave the initiative to their supervisor or the company. By the way, this is one of the things that Kazi addresses.

In short;

🔍 Visibility: Recognizing and valuing employees ensures that team members feel seen and heard.

❤️ Motivation: A simple ‘thank you’ can boost morale, leading to increased enthusiasm and higher productivity.

🔄 Retention: When employees feel valued, they are more inclined to stay.

Appreciation is the first part of the company culture ABC. Inspired by an image from Hacking HR.

bottom-up culture

One of the best and at the same time most challenging questions people regularly ask me is: how do you build a (good) company culture?

My answer usually goes something like this.

Start bottom-up.
Ensure that every employee feels heard and appreciated. This way, you create a better job match one by one. The sum of all these job matches ultimately helps determine your company culture. Conversely, trying to “impose” a culture top-down typically doesn’t work. I was recently reinforced in this belief by an item from Gary Vaynerchuck. He said; the number one way to build a company culture is one by one. Find out what drives each individual employee and what gives them a sense of security.

Align mission & vision.
When the values that are important for the company to pursue are never explicitly expressed, effecting a cultural ‘shift’ is difficult.

Failure is allowed.
Allowing your employees to make mistakes, in fact, even encouraging them, emotionally creates a psychologically safer place. This makes it easier to get everyone on the same page and establish a culture that is supported.

Celebrate wins.
Obvious, yet it’s often forgotten. This doesn’t necessarily require exuberant initiatives. A small token or compliment can go a long way.

In the coming days, I will explain in more detail the individual pillars of company culture.

What (high-level) initiatives do you see that are building blocks for setting up a good company culture?

local value

Some people in Belgium and the Netherlands are protesting against covid measures for different reasons. Even though the extent to which liberties have been limited are fundamentally different, both in severity and duration, some protesters claim the measures are too draconian.

Driving through the entire region (Belgium and the Netherlands) takes but a couple of hours. Regardless of the region’s small size, cultural differences occur logically.

In business, as in life, your service or product’s desired effect may be perceived differently within different subsets of your population, even in a tiny geographical region.

If a can of Coke tastes different around the world, it’s recommendable for all businesses alike to continuously ask for feedback throughout different segments of your customer base.

perfect doesn’t work

In an imaginary perfect world, many businesses would cease to exist. What’s an enterprise if not a vehicle to created (added) value. Arguably, in a perfect world, with all our wishes and desires fulfilled, there wouldn’t be a need to add value.

Production processes, especially mechanical ones, do, however, thrive on perfectionism. Initiatives such as lean six sigma are helpful to prevent variation and waste. When an automobile or technology maker messes up their production process, the cost for faulty parts and rebooting production is immense.

For more people-driven processes, it’s definitely worthwhile trying to eliminate errors. By stimulating communication and knwoledge, in combination with the right culture, there is a chance that less mistakes will be made.

Trying to perfect a predominantly people-driven process is costly. So much so that the cost outweighs the benefits. Aim for; as good as possible, but allow a margin for error. After all, done is better than perfect.

mannerless meeting

“Two pizza meetings” and other, almost mythical approaches on how to have the very best meeting are well documented. While there certainly are pitfalls to avoid and initiatives that boost productivity, claiming that there is one set of rules that applies to each and every company is hard to believe.

What follows is mentality or mindset. One that I, for one, would like to see gain popularity.

Staying in a meeting without any contribution to the meeting at all is rude. Even if considered mannerless, those who don’t contribute to the meeting should leave.

corporate personality

Companies have feelings too, determined by their personalities.

For small companies, let’s say five to twenty-five people, the company’s personality will be an amalgam of every individual personality working with the company. What’s true of personality is also true of culture. Cultures can’t be enforced or artificially created.

Some say people barely ever change. Apart from severe trauma, nothing impacts our personality in such a way that we change fundamentally overnight. Granted, we can be made aware of certain behaviors and then train our responses, should we want to make slight alterations to our personality.

Companies, on the other hand, have more ways of actively steering their personality. Depending on the brand, certain types of personalities might make more sense. Should your brand be perceived as funny, cocky, bold, serious, humble?

There is no right or wrong. However, standing out in a crowd, or saturated market for that matter, probably doesn’t happen by being bland.

Regardless of which characteristics you wish to see translated into your company, integrity and humility always win.