Smart Answers

Q : How can I create a single corporate culture at my small but rapidly expanding company? Our executives all come from different backgrounds and have their own agendas. -- T.H., New York City

A : You need to establish a strong vision and people philosophy that all of your executives can support. Your challenge: getting those execs to openly discuss company values. Consider a weekend retreat or, if that's unaffordable, an off-site meeting where your team can discuss the company's core values: What's important to your business? How are customers and employees treated? Where should the company be headed? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

If you show respect for your managers' business experiences, "people will be less likely to sabotage progress and more likely to work together," says Danette Mueller, a consulting partner at Leverage Systems, a St. Paul (Minn.)-based human resources consulting firm. The results of a more cohesive culture? Improved employee retention and productivity, better customer service, and a boost to the bottom line.

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