It’s all about the “teams” culture at Cisco

There's a reason why Cisco is voted the best place to work globally. And that has to do with the focus on its "teams" which is the bedrock of its culture.
By: | February 3, 2020

For the first time ever Cisco has topped the list in the authoritative Great Place to Work survey. We spoke to Lekha George, Head, People & Communities, ASEAN and Korea for Cisco about its company culture and how it won the coveted award. Here’s Part 2 of our feature interview.

Read Part 1 here: Cisco’s promise to its people

Read Part 3 here: “We’re not called HR. We’re called People and Communities”

If you could sum up the culture of Cisco in one word it would be ‘’teams’’. This is an important, if not the most important, reason for Cisco being voted the best place to work globally. In essence, Cisco is broken up into a series of teams, and the characteristics of its best ones are replicated across the company. ‘’People care not just about the company but about their teams. So we pivot a lot on teams,’’ Lekha adds.

The tech firm looked at the best teams within Cisco and came up with three characteristics it believes are its secret sauce:

People in the best teams play to their strengths

People in these teams feel they are in a trusted environment

They all have shared sense of purpose and know what excellence looks like

‘’We want to replicate that best team experience across Cisco. So we leverage on those strengths,’’ says Lekha. In essence, everything revolves around teams. There are no annual performance appraisals, instead, there are weekly check-ins with team leaders. Employees talk and reflect on the week gone by, discuss how they added value, talk about what they loved and loathed and list their priorities for the week ahead. They also discuss what support they need for the week ahead. ‘’By frequently checking in, that’s how success happens,’’ states Lekha.


Focusing on teams is clearly the bedrock of the corporate culture at Cisco. But there are other factors at play. The firm loves breaking things down into numbers (three characteristics, four elements etc). It defines culture through six principles, based on the concept of give and take:

Giving your best

Taking accountability

Giving your ego a day off

Taking difference to heart

Giving something of yourself

Taking a bold step

‘’Conscious Culture means each one of us is consciously aware of how we show up, what we say, how we behave. We feel accountable and empowered to act if we don’t see the culture going in the way the company and leadership wants it,’’ states Lekha.

Catch Lekha George live as a speaker at the upcoming
HR Tech Festival Asia 2020 (29 – 30 September, Singapore),
the region’s largest HR technology conference and exhibition.

Get your front row seat online now