What is Corporate Culture?
Every business, no matter how big or small, has their own unique corporate culture. You may be familiar with the concept of corporate culture, but have you thought about how it plays into the success of your business?
Referring to the shared ideals, customs, attitudes, principles, and philosophies that characterize members of an organization, corporate culture is rooted in an organization's goals and strategies for achieving success.
Why Does it Matter?
Understanding your company's culture, and learning how to manage it properly, can help you reach your goals and grow as an organization. A thriving culture can inspire employees to do their best, improve employee retention rates, and attract top employees to your organization. A dysfunctional culture can have the opposite effect, even leading to the demise of your organization in a worst-case scenario.
How Does it Develop?
Corporate culture doesn't develop overnight, but an organization's owners and founders tend to set the stage for how it manifests over time. When a business is starting out, the owner is most likely the one in charge of hiring decisions, or at least has a final say in who joins the team. It's likely that he or she will hire others with a set of values and personality traits similar to their own. For example, an owner or founder that is very detail-oriented and personable may look for people that also display these attributes. Someone that is more laid-back in their management and work styles mayseek out employees with a similar outlook. As the company grows, more individuals with these same traits are likely to join, thus shaping the culture to value these qualities.
However, no two hires are identical. Each person brings something different to the table. This is also something to consider when building and managing a company culture. Every addition to your company can affect your culture in some way.
How Do You Manage Culture?
Before you can manage your culture, you have to understand it and decide if it is what you envision for your business. This will require you to identify the internal and external factors affecting your organization. Answering the following questions may help you in your research:
- How would you describe your business?
- What kind of behaviors are encouraged and rewarded?
- Which employees seem to fit in, and which ones seem out of place? Why?
- What are the value proposition and mission for your business?
- Are you happy with the state of your business and how work gets done? Why or why not?
Once you answer these questions, you can decide whether you want to encourage the current state of your culture, or work to change it, if it's not leading to the business outcomes you desire.
Even if you are happy with your company's culture, it doesn't mean that you can be complacent in managing it. Check-in with your employees regularly, whether it's via anonymous satisfaction surveys or one-one-one meetings. Look for new ways to make your employees even more productive. As your company grows, make sure it grows in line with your mission, vision, and values.
If, on the other hand, you're finding that your current culture creates an environment that leads to poor business outcomes and unhappy employees, it's not too late to get on a better track. Changing your culture may be one of the most difficult things you face as a manager, but it's not impossible.
When you embark on a culture shift, you want to make sure your employees, especially managers, understand why the changes are necessary. Remind your organization of your business' underlying mission, values, and goals. Also remember to keep the lines of communication open. Your employees want to feel trusted, just as you want them to trust you. You may need to make some tough decisions during this time, and those who are not committed to this change may not be a good fit for your company in the long run.
Embracing Culture Management There are many ways you can continue to develop your organization's culture so that your business, customers, and employees benefit in the long run. With a clear understanding of your company's culture from the start, you'll be better able to manage it moving forward.