Too often, "company culture" connotes images of interoffice kickball leagues and free catered lunches. 

But as Tae Hea Nahm, managing director of the venture capital firm Storm Ventures sees it, all of that misses the fundamental point.

To him, "culture" all boils down to one thing: who gets hired, and who gets fired.

Or as he tells Adam Bryant at the New York Times:

"Culture, to me, is about getting people to make the right decision without being told what to do.

No matter what people say about culture, it's all tied to who gets promoted, who gets raises and who gets fired. You can have your stated culture, but the

Those decisions show people what you prioritize — and what you don't prioritize, Nahm explains to Bryant. "The people who succeed become role models for what's valued in the organization, and that defines culture."

You're setting a precedent: this is what we support, and this is what we don't support. A promotion sends a message — not just to the successful employee, but to everyone around them 

The best office cultures, Nahm tells the Times, are those where the stated culture is "aligned and consistent" with what's actually happening on the ground. Trouble starts to arise when the those values fall out of synch. "When the two are disconnected, you have chaos," he warns.

Read the whole interview at the New York Times.

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