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Practice Management > Building Your Business

4 Ways to Build Your Firm's Culture — Remotely

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There are three things that can happen with your culture in a crisis: It can get worse, it can stay the same as it was before the crisis (this is the unlikeliest option), or it can get better.

Right now, we find ourselves in a common crisis. We’re all experiencing disruption to our daily lives. And if you aren’t intentional about how you treat your people, it’s very easy for your culture to deteriorate as your team is spread across the country and working remotely, probably for the first time.

But even though we are in the middle of turbulence, this is a time when you can build an incredible amount of goodwill and loyalty within your team — if you take the right approach.

Let’s look to the NBA for two polar opposite approaches to team0building in a crisis.

Mark Cuban, celebrity billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, immediately announced that the team’s hourly workers would be paid and that their jobs were safe when news broke that the NBA season was postponed due to COVID-19.

On the other side, though, you have the CEO of the Houston Rockets and owner of a restaurant chain, who immediately started to lay off staff in  various companies.

Whether you take care of your team first or put your profits first will be easy to see in a crisis. And your choice will impact your business far longer than any economic downturn.

If you’re wondering exactly how to create a winning culture, even during a crisis, I believe there are the four steps you should take to keep your culture together, keep employees happy and create loyalty when you experience a crisis.

The four steps are simple in theory. But if you don’t take time to intentionally think about and enact each, it’s all too easy for your culture to slide.

Here’s what you need to know.

Step 1: Revisit core values

What does your firm stand for? Your values shouldn’t change because of a change in operational processes or a change in an employee’s work location.

If you’ve taken the time to establish and communicate your values, you should be in good shape. If not, start right away. 

Step 2: Have honest conversations 

Take a step back to look at your behavior and how you treat your team. Are you being empathetic, caring, and compassionate?

Your values may not explicitly state these actions, but now is the time to go deeper into the human values.

Pursue being good to each other and ask your team if these behaviors are being upheld throughout the organization.

Step 3: Keep a journal

Whether what you record is positive or negative, now is the time to document yourself. Times of challenge give us opportunities to grow, but self analysis is key to that personal growth.

Journaling helps by giving you a way to look back and accurately analyze what you’ve done and see ways to improve yourself. It’s also a historical record of this strange and volatile time.

Step 4: Ask for help, forgiveness

We are better together. As you work and make decisions, you want to involve your team and own outcomes as a group. But at the same time, you need to give people extra space. Everyone has added stress right now.

Whatever else happens, you can also choose to be kind. If you make a mistake, own it. Ask for forgiveness. A leader who operates with humility creates a culture where employees feel valued—even when things go wrong.

Your response to crisis will shape the future of your company. When a crisis happens, you need a business process to follow to get you through that period of difficulty.

The same is true of your culture. These four steps can act as your process to guide you through how to act and what to prioritize.

This is the time when you know if your core values are merely words on the wall or actions you live by. The best and worst of humanity comes out during a crisis. You have to actively choose the better side of yourself.

The companies who survive and thrive coming out of this crisis will be those who provide transparency and stability to their organization through understanding and empathy.

Your employees will feel valued, understood, and more loyal to you as you demonstrate loyalty toward them. Don’t miss your chance to make your company better right now.


Jarrod Upton, MBA, MS, CFP® is Chief Operations and Senior Consultant at Herbers & Company, an independent management consultancy for financial advisory firms. He can be reached at 


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